A total of 362 individuals in Northwest Montana completed surveys during the annual Montana Housing Status Survey, which seeks to count people who consider themselves homeless or at risk of being homeless.
Another 179 people who were approached declined to fill out a survey form during the Jan. 23 count.
The survey provides information about homeless in Northwest Montana and is linked to future funding opportunities for programs and services for those in need and creating new housing resources.
Chris Krager, executive director of the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Kalispell, said homelessness is “always on an upward trend” in his experience. Samaritan House has 35 beds in the shelter which are “typically full all the time,” along with 21 beds in transitional housing, which are always full.
“We use the survey numbers for grant writing, for corporate requests and to showing the magnitude of the homelessness issue we’re trying to address,” he said.
The survey is conducted across the U.S. and counts people who are sleeping in a place not meant for habitation, staying in an emergency shelter or domestic violence shelter or in a transitional housing facility for homeless persons, or anyone who was otherwise without a home on the evening of Jan. 23.
The survey results will also assist the Flathead Homeless Interagency Resource Education organization, a coalition of public and private non-profit agencies formed to coordinate services to homeless people in Northwest Montana.
A number of surveyors also went to motels and other areas where homeless people might be staying to locate as many homeless individuals and families as possible in Northwest Montana.
For more information, call the United Way at 752-7266 in the greater Kalispell area or toll-free at 1-888-720-7266.