Annual homeless survey needs volunteers | News

POLK COUNTY – The Annual Point-in-Time Count (PIT), which surveys homeless people in Polk and Marion counties, needs volunteers. The local PIT tally is part of a nationwide survey organized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The count in Polk and Marion counties, organized by Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action, will take place this year on January 25-26 and January 29. Volunteers are needed to go out in pairs and find and interview homeless individuals and families. . Those who sign up to help will work shifts, 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on January 25 and 26, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on January 29. People can register for as many shifts as possible. they would love to, said Robert Marshall, the MWCVA’s Arches program manager. The program provides assistance to the homeless.

Marshall said getting an accurate count is key to getting people and families the help they need. Homelessness, for the purposes of the survey, is defined as an individual or families who “have slept in a public or private supervised shelter designated to provide temporary housing (including group shelters, transitional housing and hotels and motels paid for by charities or by federal, state, or local government programs for low-income individuals)” or “had a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not intended or customarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport or campsite.

The 2021 PIT counted 123 people who meet this definition in Polk County.

“We research the number of individuals or households experiencing homelessness in any community (in the region), and we also collect key characteristics and demographic information, such as veteran status, s ‘they’ve already been victims of violence, the length of time they’ve been homeless,’ Marshall said. “All of this demographic information enables service providers – such as the Community Action Agency and Polk County Resource Centers – to provide the services we provide to meet the needs of the population.”

Marshall said the need for volunteers cannot be overstated, especially as the pandemic continues.

“Last year we had a hard time finding volunteers as it was the first year of the one-time count during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year we are still in the middle of the pandemic, and we imagine that this will still be a bit difficult to find volunteers,” Marshall said. “But we also know that over the past year, so many additional households have faced housing insecurity or been forced into These counts are important to track these trends, to be able to compare this year’s count to last year’s and see how many more households have been forced into homelessness simply because of the pandemic or other insecurities financial challenges they faced from year to year.”

Accurate counts each year allow the agency to track these trends and target resources to areas that need them most.

Marshall said the agency has safety measures in place for exposure to COVID-19, such as limiting the number of volunteers working together in groups. Volunteers will be given general safety guidelines for interacting with people during the count. Marshall added that agency outreach workers have not experienced any danger in the field.

“Our organization and many other organizations send outreach teams into the community every day to interact with the homeless population and have never seen an incident where an outreach worker has been attacked or placed in a dangerous situation,” Marshall said.

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