The 2024 Missouri Point In Time Count (PITC) survey is January 24, as mandated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Each community in the region is encouraged to conduct a census of sheltered and unsheltered individuals and families sleeping in places not meant for human habitation or in emergency shelters. The survey, which occurs annually on a single night the last ten days of January, can be completed by community providers, volunteers, faith-based organizations, people who are currently or who have experienced homelessness, law enforcement, hospitals, and more. The PITC provides an opportunity for communities to better understand the scope and needs of community members experiencing homelessness. It is meant to serve as a snapshot of homelessness in a community and to provide a sense of the overall scope of homelessness in America. Information from the count is utilized in guiding federal funding decisions.

Many communities don’t realize homelessness is a problem in rural Missouri, but about 18% of all homeless people live in rural areas. Individuals experiencing rural homelessness are likely to sleep in vehicles, a camper, with relatives in overcrowded or substandard housing, or to create shelter in encampments outside the city limits. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, rural homelessness is most pronounced in rural regions that are primarily agricultural; regions whose economies are based on declining industries such as mining; regions experiencing economic growth, as in areas with industrial plants that have attracted more workers than jobs; and areas that attract new businesses and higher income residents, thus driving up housing costs, taxes, and living expenses. Back in 2005, the US poverty level was 12.6% of the population. One in five nonmetro counties was classified as a high poverty county (defined as having a poverty rate of 20% or higher), while only one in twenty metro counties were defined as high poverty (Fisher, 2005).  In 2023, the poverty rate in the United States has fallen to 11.5% and is 13.2% in Missouri as a whole, yet in all West Central counties (except Cass at 8.1%), the poverty level is 14%-20% (see table below).  Around 6,000 people in MIssouri are known to be homeless.  Although known to be vastly underreported, at least 19% of the homeless are youth under age 18; 8% are veterans; and 19% are chronically homeless (individuals who have been homeless at least 12 months or have experienced extended periods of homelessness over the past three years.)

Interested in helping? Here are a couple of ways you can get involved:

1. The unsheltered count begins at 5:00 pm Wednesday January 24 and ends 7:00 am on the 25th. Volunteers organize by county, meeting the evening of the count at an agreed upon location. You as a group will go out into the community to known places where unsheltered populations may gather and complete short surveys for those willing to participate. This can include a number of places; outside of warming centers, emergency rooms, local churches, or even local encampments (with advanced preparation). There are a number of safety protocols in place for unsheltered counting, so please reach out to myself or another coordinator for guidance if this is something you are interested in doing.

2. Volunteers are also needed to spread the word of the count to those in the community who come into contact with homeless families and individuals. Post a PIT flyer at a local business or provide the survey link & volunteer release form to those who may be willing to help. The more who know, the better chance we will have an accurate count.

There are a few counties within our service area who already have been planning well in advance, and can give you specific directions on where and how to participate.

Reach out to the coordinator for more info:  Austin Martin,, West Central’s Transitions Services number (660-476-5974). Also the Regional Housing Hotline number (833-329-1812) will help unsheltered households can be connected to services! For more information on the upcoming Point In Time Count, homlessness in our region, and how you can work within the Agency or your home community to help, contact Austin Martin,

Resources: Point in Time Count Resources – Missouri Balance of State CoC (

Point in Time Count Volunteer Release and Confidentiality Agreement – Missouri Balance of State CoC (

Percentage of Persons in Poverty, 2023 in El Dorado Springs and surrounding area (15% is high poverty, 20% is extreme poverty):

Cedar — 17.9%

Henry — 16.8%

Hickory — 17.8%

St. Clair — 18.2%

Vernon — 17.2%

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