TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Cities like Tyler and Longview are doing what they can to help the homeless in East Texas.

“We want to help move them beyond where they are and help get them to where they’re working a job, living independently, being self sufficient,” said Executive Director at Hiway 80 Rescue Mission, Brian Livingston.

One of those ways is taking part in the annual homeless survey, counting as many people as they can to get an accurate number of the population in our area.

“Of course the economy plays a role and there’s more homeless people. We’re noticing that now. Our number is up as of noon today,” said East Texas Human Needs Network volunteer, Mark Richardson.

Longview conducts their count by hosting a Homeless Resource Day, which offers many services under one roof. It ranges from volunteers giving blankets and food, to helping people find a job and get a haircut.

“I have to give a lot of credit to our Longview mayor for having a vision and asking us to do more needs assessment,” said Longview Community Services Director, Dietrich Johnson.

In Tyler, it takes more than 40 people to count in shelters and on the streets, using a special app that has a questionnaire.

“We can determine needs like mental health disorders, physical disabilities, where they go to get medical assistance,” explained Richardson.

The information collected goes to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine the necessary funding to help the homeless in counties across the country.

It’s a rising concern over the past few years.

“We’ve seen an increase in people come to our shelter over the past couple years, with the pandemic and the economy being as such,” added Livingston. “There’s a large community in Longview that’s kind of on the brink of needing our services. They’re living paycheck to paycheck.”

The annual count helps organizations like Hiway 80 Rescue Mission better assist those in need.