Local volunteers sought for homeless survey

From the 1.16.13 edition


(The following was submitted by the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition.)

Preparations are under way for Humboldt County’s 2013 Point-in-Time (PIT) count of homeless people in the community. This year’s survey is scheduled for Jan. 29 to 31.

The PIT count is conducted every two years by members of the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHHC), assisted by a host of local volunteers. It provides a tally of who is homeless on one given night — this year that night is Jan. 28 — and provides a snapshot of who experiences homelessness throughout the year.

“Homelessness is something that affects us all,” said Jacqui Brennan, Northern Humboldt PIT coordinator. “It’s not any one agency’s role to combat homelessness, but it is everyone’s responsibility to acknowledge and work to improve the lives and health of some of our county’s most vulnerable residents.”

Volunteers are needed to help with this year’s count. Volunteers receive training and work closely with experienced staffers from local agencies, as well as homeless advocates who have participated in previous PIT counts. The count covers all of Humboldt County, from the Garberville area north to Orick.

“We interview all types of homeless and houseless people, including couch surfers, unaccompanied youth, families, singles and those in transitional housing or emergency shelters,” said Dawn Watkins, coordinator of Southern Humboldt’s PIT count.

People surveyed are asked where they slept the night of Jan. 28. They are also asked questions about their age, family status, living situation and well-being. The information is used to obtain an unduplicated number of and basic information about families and individuals living without a regular place to sleep at night, as well as to assess the effectiveness of services the community provides and to identify service gaps for future planning.

The HHHC is a coalition of housing advocates, businesses, funders, elected officials, service and housing providers, faith-based organizations and other community stakeholders working together to identify and address local housing needs. In Humboldt County, it is the lead organization for homeless issues and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-recognized Continuum of Care.

“Thanks to successful partnerships among the HHHC, we are seeing many positive outcomes,” said Barbara LaHaie, assistant director of programs for the Department of Health and Human Services and co-chair of the HHHC along with Karen “Fox” Olson. “The coordination of all of these services and supports in the community is helping to bring people together to reduce homelessness in our community.”

HUD requires communities that receive Continuum of Care funding to complete PIT counts. In Humboldt County, counts have been held in 2005, 2009 and 2011.

“The PIT count requires a great effort in coordination and collaboration, and with the community’s help, we anticipate another successful count in 2013,” Brennan said. “The count brings together a vast array of community agencies, organizations, tribes, churches, individuals and groups that may not ordinarily connect so closely on any other project.”

Representatives from more than 40 agencies and trained volunteers gathered for the January 2011 PIT count. That count found that 1,626 people were without housing in the county on the night of Jan. 25, 2011, including more than 450 children.

For more information about the HHHC, call Nick Vogel at 441-4613. For more information about the 2013 PIT count, email humboldtcounts@gmail.com or call Jacqui Brennan at 707-498-4761.

Anyone is welcome to attend PIT count trainings. Trainings are scheduled as follows:

• Jan. 18, 10 a.m. to noon at the DHHS Professional Building, 507 F St. in Eureka

• Jan. 22, noon to 1:30 p.m. at Umpqua Bank, 39171 Highway 299 in Willow Creek

• Jan. 23, noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Redway Family Resource Center, 344 Humboldt Ave. in Redway

• Jan. 24, 10 a.m. to noon at the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, 828 Seventh St. in Eureka

• Jan. 24, 3:30 to 5 p.m. at the Community Wellness Center, 908 Seventh St. in Eureka

• Jan. 25, noon to 1 p.m. at Open Door Commu nity Health Center, 670 Ninth St., Suite 203, in Arcata

•Jan. 25, 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. in Siemens Hall, Room 109, at Humboldt State University in Arcata

Dawn Watkins will also be holding several one-on-one trainings in Southern Humboldt. For more information about scheduling an appointment, call her at 707-223-5990.