Hamblen County joins nationwide homeless count

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HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Volunteers all across the country rose before the sun Wednesday to hit the streets to count and survey the nation's homeless population.

In Hamblen County, a crew went out at midnight finding several people in parks, laundromats, and abandoned buildings.

"Here in Hamblen County we have lots of wonderful resources and I think because of those resources, many times we feel like every single need is being met. But the truth of the matter is, there are people in places you would never know," said Ministerial Association Temporary Shelter executive director Gary Brewster.

MATS has conducted the county's count for several years. Volunteers know the common places to look, but they often find abandoned camp sites instead of people.

"They are very mobile and we're not catching them all," said Brewster.

Those they did find were left with a gift bag of essentials like food, soap and a toothbrush along with a blanket. They were also prepped with resources of places they could go with people who want to help.

The national Point in Time Count is organized by HUD to help counties and states determine where the problem lies and who these people are.

In Morristown, last year's count showed an increase in homeless youth and homeless families, a demographic they haven't worked as closely with in the past.

Hamblen County totaled 87 homeless people today, many less from last year. Leaders say they contribute the decline to widespread resources that have broken "repeat" homeless. They also believe this year's lack of a warming center has sent many in search of city agencies that can help.

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