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Volunteers Count Unsheltered Homeless People

On Tuesday, homeless individuals and families will gather near Commercial Street in Springfield for a barbecue. The event is a chance for volunteers to count how many homeless people don't have a place to stay. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

You might think that, by definition, homeless people don't have a place to stay...but there are the sheltered homeless and the unsheltered homeless. On Tuesday, volunteers across the state will be counting the unsheltered homeless. Christopher Smith is the administrator of program management with Community Partnership of the Ozarks. He says the count serves two purposes...the first is to simply find out how many people don't have shelter...

Last summer's count showed there were approximately 250 people in Springfield who did not have a place to sleep at night.

Smith says many people are unaware of the scope of the problem.

Community Partnership is also gathering information this week on the number of unsheltered homeless people in Greene, Christian and Webster counties. Smith says collecting this information in rural areas can be challenging.

Smith says last summer, nearly 1 in 5 unsheltered homeless people in Springfield was a veteran.

So at Tuesday's barbecue where Community Partnership will be counting the unsheltered homeless, Smith says there will be someone there to help veterans specifically.

Community Partnership is doing the unsheltered homeless count in conjunction with Missouri State University. The goal is to develop a set of data over the next five years.