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Agencies ready to conduct homeless count

The Stanislaus County Housing and Support Services Collaborative is readying to embark on the yearly census count of homeless individuals residing in Stanislaus County with the hopes of identifying services needed to help the community and increase funding for those services.

Volunteers from more than 20 nonprofit agencies, churches and public service providers will be participating in the 2016 Point in Time Count. The volunteers will span out across the county Jan. 28 to get as accurate a count as possible of the homeless population residing in the county.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stipulates the count be done on a yearly basis as part of their funding application. Stanislaus County typically gets around $3.3 million in Supportive Housing Program funds from HUD, which is used for housing needs, both permanent and temporary, as well as case management services.

The 2015 Point in Time Count tallied up 1,408 homeless individuals living in Stanislaus County, up from the 1,156 recorded in 2014 and 1,201 in 2013.

The results of the count will be used to help raise awareness about the issue of homelessness, plan future services geared to unsheltered homeless people, understand changes in trends among the homeless population and accurately identify service needs in order to bring funding resources to the county.

The street-based count will include places that homeless people use primarily for sleeping and other places they use as part of their daily activities.  The shelter/service-based count will include those places where homeless persons receive services such as shelters, transitional housing or food distribution programs. In addition to the count, surveys will be completed to identify service use patterns and disability and demographic information that can be used to better understand the needs of homeless individuals and families. Last year a total of 892 questionnaires were collected from emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and street count locations.

In addition to completing a questionnaire, volunteers will provide the homeless persons with a “to-go” bag with food donated by local businesses and service providers along with contact information for services available in our community.

For more information on where to go to be counted or those interested in volunteering contact the Housing Authority at 557-2016.  The deadline for signing up to be a volunteer is Friday.