Saturday, January 16, 2016

Volunteers Needed for 2016 Homeless Point-In-Time Count

The local homeless coalition, for the second year, is doing a street count of the unsheltered. In addition to the street count, the local coalition is conducting a census of the homeless living in shelters and transitional housing programs, which is now an annual requirement. Volunteers will comb various areas in the county including homeless camps, to survey men, women and families to access demographics and need.

Volunteers are needed to survey Franklin’s county homeless for the annual three-day count coordinated by the Big Bend Homeless Coalition. Training takes place on Wednesday, January 20th at 6:30pm at the Franklin County Schools District Office (the old Brown Elementary) located at 85 School Rd. in Eastpoint. January 26, 27, 28 volunteers will be fanning out in search of the homeless to be counted in the federally required Point-In-Time survey, which serves as a snapshot of how many are homeless on any given day in a community. Each survey completed helps advocates learn a range of useful details: length of homelessness, where they live, race, medical condition and other specifics. The 2016 Point-in-Time Count acts a homeless census, offering a glimpse at local homelessness. The survey comes at a time when federal funding for program is alarmingly low and forces agencies to cap who and how many can be served and put in a permanent housing. The survey is critical for tapping into government assistance. The count will go to the Big Bend Homeless Coalition in Tallahassee then to the National HUD Office and from there to the government such as the congress, legislature and senate will be able to prove there is need in Franklin County.

Sandi Hengle the Franklin County Schools Homeless Liaison stated “We can’t talk about what homelessness if we don’t know what it looks like, “We can’t get resources and services as well as more needed housing if we don’t have data showing the need in Franklin County. The point and time survey is very important to our community because it gives us a good one-day snap shot of who is homeless in our community, and what their needs are.”. Erin Foley, Outreach Coordinator with the Advocates for Veteran Housing Big Bend Homeless Coalition says “One of the most important aspects of the annual Point In Time Count (PIT) is it brings to light the large numbers of Veterans in our communities who may be experiencing homelessness. It is our goal to end Veteran homelessness in the Big Bend region, and the PIT is one of the best ways for us to identify those Veterans who may need assistance with accessing housing resources.

Heading up the Point in Time count will be Clarice Powell, Victim Advocate with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and Charles Elliott, VSO with the Franklin County Veterans’ Service Office and Sandi Hengle, Homeless Liaison with the Franklin County Schools.

For more information or to sign up as a volunteer call Sandi Hengle, Franklin County Schools Homeless Liaison at 850-323-0982.