Since 2010, Urban Ministry Center has taken one day a year to interview every person who comes on our main campus property seeking services to gain a better understanding of the characteristics and needs of our overall population. We call it our annual “Survey at the Gate,” though through the years we have progressed from completing paper surveys literally at our gate to an online survey taken inside. While we might add or subtract a few questions each year, the core of the survey has remained stable, allowing us to track trends. See below for highlights from our 2014 survey, which was completed on September 29th.
- In one day, 468 people came on our property in need of services. This is slightly higher than last year (456 people), but certainly a downward trend compared to when we began the survey in 2010 (597 people). We are making progress towards ending homelessness!
- For the first time, we were able to look at flow of traffic. Not surprisingly, the lunch hour had the most traffic. Interestingly, 80% of the total population came to UMC before noon.
- We once again confirmed that UMC serves the full continuum of homelessness. The same percentage of people have been homeless for less than one month, as have been homeless for 3 years or more (22%).
- We found a slightly lower percentage of chronically homeless individuals this year and a slightly higher percentage of those who have been homeless 6 months or less. We will have to see if this trend holds next year. It could be a result of concerted efforts to end chronic homelessness.
- Most disturbingly, we continued to see an increase in people living on the street. This year 37% of those we serve primarily live on the street or a place unfit for human habitation (ex. vehicle) compared to only 17% in 2010. This increase is related to a significant decrease of individuals residing in the shelter. This year only 20% of our population identified they stayed in the shelter versus 46% in 2010.
- A third of our population reports earning income through work, either on or off the books. Nearly a quarter receive a government check, such as retirement or disability. Twenty percent report no income whatsoever.
- We serve a population with special needs. Over 70% of the population self-reported at least one disabling condition. 9% reported three or more disabling conditions.
You can learn more about this year’s survey and its results here. If there are questions you would like to ask about the data, feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 704-369-7611.
A special thanks to all the staff and volunteers who made this year’s “Survey at the Gate” possible. One respondent offered, “Thanks for giving me a new leaf on life. Thanks for postponing my funeral. I’m very grateful for UMC.” The UMC community, volunteers and supporters help make those kinds of transformations possible.