HELENA – On Thursday, the United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area will join organizations across the country in conducting a survey to better understand homelessness in our area.

According to Trina Filan, Community Impact Coordinator at the United Way, the nonprofit has been conducting the survey for upwards of 13 years. The four page questionnaire helps the United Way understand the demographics of those experience homelessness in Lewis and Clark, Broadwater and Jefferson counties.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development asks that organizations like the United Way conduct the survey to “give policy makers and funders at the state and national levels a clearer picture of how homelessness is evolving at many levels,” the United Way said.

Story continues below

In order to gather the information, the United Way distributes the surveys to local organizations including Good Samaritan Ministries, Healthcare for the Homeless and the Helena Food Share.

While the survey can be administered for multiple days, the official day for the survey is Thursday. That’s when United Way is hosting a dinner at God’s Love Shelter to get as many people to fill out the survey as possible.

Filan said in the past, hundreds of people have taken the time to fill it out. Last years survey showed that more than 1,500 people were experiencing homelessness in Montana. Filan hypothesized that’s about one-third of the true number. Nonetheless, she remains optimistic for the future.

“That’s a solvable problem. We can do it here. What we need is folks to really understand and want to figure out what the solutions are and then promote them,” Filan said.

The community dinner begins at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at God’s Love and goes until the shelter runs out of food.

The full list of locations offering the survey includes God’s Love, Good Samaritan Ministries, Healthcare for the Homeless, Helena Food Share (Helena and East Helena), Helena Indian Alliance, Lewis and Clark Public Health/WIC, Our Place Drop-in Center, The Salvation Army, and the United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area.

For more information, call the United Way at 406-442-4360 or email info@unitedwaylca.org.