The Lee County Homeless Coalition is an advocacy group made up of individual stakeholders and agencies who are engaged to ensure that homelessness is rare, brief, and one-time. The Coalition represents the Continuum of Care, a local planning body that coordinates housing and human services funding for homeless families and individuals. Once per year the Coalition in partnership with Lee County Human and Veterans Services, and many volunteers, conducts a Point in Time (PIT) census to count the homeless and provide data to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The PIT count is also used to gather the information that allows local service providers to target services to meet the specific needs of the homeless in our communities.

The PIT count, which asked people where they slept the night of January 26, 2022, included both sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals and families.

The PIT count documented 560 homeless persons, of whom forty-seven (8.39%) were chronically homeless according to the HUD definition. HUD defines chronic homelessness as “an unaccompanied adult homeless individual with a disabling condition who has either continuously been homeless for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.”

Among the 560 were forty-nine families with eighty-six children. There were 24 veterans recorded in the PIT count, 21 of which were active in a Rapid Rehousing program working with a case manager to obtain housing.

The total number of persons estimated to be experiencing homelessness on the single night of January 26, 2022, was an increase from 2020 and 2021, which had 444 and 394 respectively. The lower estimate in 2021 is reflective of a modified counting methodology due to the pandemic. In 2022, the Point in Time Count was conducted as it had been prior to the pandemic. Volunteers and staff from homeless service providers conducted in person interviews with persons who were encountered across Lee County on January 26, 2022. In addition to the change in methodology, the current economic conditions in the County have contributed to the increased estimates in 2022.

Housing and service programs for the homeless are provided in part through Continuum of Care funds from HUD. The 2021 Continuum of Care funding announcements were made in March 2022. Lee County was awarded funding to sustain existing programs and begin new programs that provide housing and services to persons experiencing homelessness. These programs are operated by Lee County Human and Veterans Services, Community Assisted and Supported Living, Lee County Housing Development Corporation, Jewish Family and Children Services, Saint Vincent de Paul, Goodwill Industries of SWFL, and The Salvation Army. The total awarded amount was $2,046,670.

The Lee County Homeless Coalition would like to extend a special thank you to the volunteers that assisted with this year’s PIT count.