Homelessness is all around us, even in Lake County! Do you know someone who is homeless? Preparations are underway for the 2017 PIT Count! PIT stands for Point In Time. It is a nationwide census of unsheltered homeless individuals and families. This is a “snapshot” of what homelessness looks like in each area.
Why the count? Federal funding for local efforts to end and prevent homelessness depend on this data. It is also an outreach effort, to offer assistance to people who may not otherwise use services. Demographic data from the interviews is used to determine variations in need for services. The VA assists with counting and interviewing homeless veterans.
Critical information on unsheltered individuals is gathered by “boots on the ground”. Volunteers are deployed late at night, to locations where homeless individuals are sleeping. “Armed” with food, beverages, and warm winter accessories, team members hope to interview each person counted. Shelter is also offered. In Lake County, over 60 volunteers have been trained to engage individuals with sensitivity, respect and safety. Each team is assigned a geographic area, within Lake County’s 1,368 square miles.
Homeless individuals in local shelters, transitional housing, Safe Havens, and other homeless service provider locations are counted as sheltered.
What are other benefits? Knowing the needs of individuals help local agencies provide services that can help them enter and stay in permanent housing. Participation in the count changes perceptions and motivates volunteers to make a difference. Volunteers that are currently homeless help bridge the experiential gap with team members.
Why teams? Engaging and interviewing homeless individuals requires planning and determination. Communicating respect and compassion may not elicit the response that is expected. Teams are designed to facilitate engagement and provide observation and feedback with each encounter.
Hear firsthand from volunteers for the 2016 count: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbrtVkxQHqw
Questions? Call 847-377-2134