[Hpn] Boise, Idaho - Idaho starts tracking homeless - KTVB 7 TV News - December 2, 2003

HC Covington HC Covington" <hcc@icanamerica.org
Wed, 3 Dec 2003 03:12:14 -0500


Idaho starts tracking homeless

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Anna Rau - KTVB 7 TV News - December 2, 2003

Idaho is just the 2nd state in the nation to start tracking
its homeless population. Thirty-nine homeless shelters and
outreach programs are now keeping records of who visits
their agencies and uses their services.

Thatís because about two years ago, U.S. Lawmakers told the
department of housing and urban development they want to
know where millions of dollars for the homeless are going
and if that money is helping.

The Boise Rescue Mission along with two others in the area
serve 14 thousand meals a month but until now no one could
be sure if the homeless who lay their heads here, were also
visiting other shelters.

"We can see who has been given what and who else has been
given what so we don't duplicate services." Douglas Segali
with the Boise Rescue Mission said.

Douglas Segali is the Guest Services Director at the Boise
Rescue Mission. He says the new computer system known as
ServicePoint keeps track of what they give to each homeless
person, and what other agencies have given that person
too.

"A sleeping bag, you may think it's nothing but that's
pretty big item here for the homeless and if you find that
he's got a sleeping bag over here and there's another one
over there, and they got a third one over there, you're not
taking care of your resources, and you're not being
responsible."

"It is all a process of accountability." Julie Williams with
Idaho Housing and Finance Association said.

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association. The non-profit
organization spent the last year and a half getting the
program running in Idaho.

"It's a way to determine how many people really need the
services and how well the money is being utilized and
stretched to cover the needs." Williams said.

But Grant Program Manager Earl Cook says the tracking system
goes beyond accountability, it's actually helping agencies
get more money for the homeless.

"It really is useful in being able to document and justify
the need for additional resources." Earl Cook with Idaho
Housing and Finance Association said.

Cook says some shelters have already started using the
numbers they've gathered to apply for extra grants.

Segali says even though the rescue mission doesn't receive
HUD money, they're using the new computer system in the
hopes of helping homeless all across Idaho.

"I think it's very important because we can serve the
homeless better." Segali said.

The Rescue Mission stressed that all the information the
organization gathers is voluntary and confidential.

The state must have all those numbers compiled in a final
annual report to congress by September of 2004.

KTVB 7 TV News source page: http://tinyurl.com/xi1b
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