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      Homeless numbers down, advocates say the counting system is wrong

      Homeless advocates say MidMichigan is missing out on federal dollars because of the way the homeless population is counted.

      Those advocates say certain criteria have to be met or those who would normally be considered homeless are not according to the federal government.

      Last week, Genesee County homeless advocates counted people staying at emergency shelters in order to gauge how many federal dollars are needed.

      Local advocates say the count is faulty.

      Tredale Kennedy, director of Alternative Veteran Solutions in Flint says, "Just because we do a count for one day and a person says 'I'm going to be on a friend's couch,' that does not mean they're not homeless. If you ask that relative or that friend, they are homeless because they're there for only that night."

      Metro Community Development in Flint says the number of homeless individuals served by agencies from 2010 to 2011 went down by more than 200 in Genesee County.

      The 2010 number was 3,382. The 2011 number was 3,178.

      Gerry Leslie, Genesee County Homeless Management Information Systems director says, "The challenge we still have are addressing all the needs in the community when it comes to housing outcomes those who end up in permanent housing because of programs. We find we are highly performing in the Flint area."

      However, one of the measures is called the "point in time" count. It's similar to school count days. It's the number of homeless people identified on a given day.

      Advocates say the way homeless people are counted needs to change in order to serve the public properly.

      Thirteen homeless locations and emergency shelters were used to count the homeless last week including Carriage Town Ministries and the North End Soup Kitchen.