Citing the need for better coordination between governmental entities and private and nonprofit organizations to address homelessness, Governor Matt Mead has tapped the Wyoming Department of Family Services (DFS) to coordinate information on homeless issues and services. DFS will assess data, inventory community and state programs and create a ten-year plan to address homelessness.
"Wyoming must focus its efforts to address homelessness. This means better coordination of existing programs and appropriate planning to tackle the underlying causes of homelessness," Governor Mead said. "A state plan is an important step and I appreciate the work of DFS on this effort."
DFS Director Steve Corsi has appointed a new statewide homelessness coordinator, Brenda Lyttle. Lyttle says the first step in coordinating homelessness services for Wyoming on a statewide basis will be identifying all the people and programs already working around the state.
"The goal for DFS will be to get a clear picture of homelessness in Wyoming. Then we need to help match needs with available services and resources on a state and community level," Lyttle added. "Nationally, there's a problem with homelessness among veterans. As part of our efforts we will need to look closely at how our veterans are faring around the state."
Lyttle said other groups that need assessment are people coming to look for work in Wyoming, individuals with mental health issues, homeless youth and transient individuals.
DFS is applying to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a grant to obtain the Homeless Management Information System. The agency can use the system to track and assess characteristics of homeless people in shelters and count the population annually in Wyoming communities.
DFS will also provide Governor Mead with a report updating progress in the next 60 days.
Homelessness is on the rise in Wyoming according to HUD, which reported a 75 percent increase between 2011 and 2012. HUD reported there were 1,813 homeless persons in Wyoming at the beginning of 2013, a figure many community social service groups believe is representative of larger numbers.