Volunteers needed for homeless count survey

Social Services: Individuals help officials understand how best to help population

of the HeraldJanuary 15, 2014 

Last January, there were more than 1,300 homeless individuals counted across Pierce County. The Tacoma-Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness conducts the annual survey for the homeless on Jan. 23-24.

The organization is looking for 100 volunteers to handle the survey.

“From victims of domestic abuse, people with disabilities to veterans and senior citizens, volunteers can help us better understand the needs of our homeless neighbors,” said Charlene Hamblen, chair of the Tacoma-Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness. “Volunteers collect important data that will help us improve the quality of life and outlook for so many families and individuals.”

The homeless count is required each year by the state Department of Housing and Urban Development and also the state Department of Commerce. Both invest millions of dollars for programs, said Rae Anne Giron, a spokesperson for Pierce County Community Connections.

“They want to see what the impact of their dollars are, and what is the movement of homeless numbers in the community,” Giron said.

House Bill 2163 requires counties to reduce homelessness by 50 percent based on the 2006 point-in-time count. It’s a 10-year plan, but the state Department of Commerce has been working to eliminate the sunset clause in order to continue it past 2015, Giron said.

That’s because there have been some bumps to the road in the regional economy, Giron said.

Giron said volunteers will visit fixed locations, such as hot meal sites or day shelters. Sites in Puyallup include the Share and Care House, Freezing Nights, the Thursday night dinner at the Armory and other locations where the homeless gather, such as city parks and areas near the Puyallup River.

Volunteers must attend at least one training session before they participate, Giron said. Volunteers can be younger than 18, but they must be accompanied by an adult.

Upcoming sessions are from 4:15 to 5:45 p.m. Jan. 15, and from 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. Friday. Both sessions will be at Pierce County Community Connections, Sound View, 3602 Pacific Ave., Suite 200, conference room 1. Those who are interested can call Giron at 253-798-6931.

Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at andrew.fickes@puyallupherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.

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