Social service agencies and volunteers are heading out to the streets, soup kitchens, woods and beaches this week to survey the number of homeless in Mississippi. MPB’s Evelina Burnett went out with one survey volunteer on the Mississippi Gulf Coast on Jan. 27.
"OK, who is in your household?"
Lynda Favre asks survey questions of Joe Lott, or Hobo Joe as he likes to be called, as they sit in his campsite in Gulfport.
"How many times have you been homeless?" she asks.
"Thirty-five, 40 years," he answers.
Favre, who runs the homeless service group Shepherd of the Gulf, has been out all day. She's carrying a clipboard with copies of a survey of the homeless that asks everything from names and birth dates to disabilities and military service.
"And if they're a veteran, do they have benefits, or are without benefits but eligible," she says. "It's a very in-depth survey, and I think it covers a lot of areas that we need to know about so we can get them the help they need in those specific areas."
Mary Simons is director of the Open Doors Homeless Coalition, which organizes the survey in Mississippi's six lower counties. She says the survey is done nationally at the same time so that the statistics that result can be used to track trends and create plans for providing services to the homeless.