It’s difficult to get good data on homelessness in Native American territory, mainly because the US Census undercounts Native American areas greatly. To address this issue, the Housing Assistance Council and the Corporation for Supportive Housing collaborated to develop a toolkit that allows Native American tribes to conduct their internal homeless counts. Their American Indian Supportive Housing Initiative includes the toolbox.
Homelessness is frequently assumed to exist only in urban settings, where physical homelessness, or people sleeping on the streets, in shelters, or other places not intended for human habitation, is the case. In remote areas, where people are less likely to experience real homelessness, homelessness takes on a new form. And they’re more likely to live in inferior housing or for long periods with friends or relatives, often in overcrowding.
The Native American Homelessness Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act, as well as the Rural Housing Stability Assistance Program, were created as a result of increased awareness of previously disregarded rural homeless people. As a result of the increasing awareness, the toolkit was developed, which provides a dependable framework for conducting internal homeless counts on Native American tribal territories. The toolkit also addresses concerns of administrative autonomy and historical skepticism of federal studies on tribal grounds.
The toolbox includes four crucial steps based on lessons learned from an internal homeless count undertaken by Native American tribes in northern Minnesota:
Rural communities in American Indian and Alaska Native territories are being reached out to.
Planning and executing a survey –
Collaboration between academics and intermediary organizations.
The initiative is being funded –
When performing an internal homeless census on tribal territory, it’s vital to fully explain how the count will help the tribe secure housing money and gain a better picture of the population in need. Allowing the tribe to do the count helps to alleviate privacy and confidentiality concerns. When outside entities or the federal government obtain personal data, tribal people may be concerned that their privacy and confidentiality may be violated. Finding a champion within the tribe to lead the census process is the first step in outreach and involvement.