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Volunteers surveyed the homeless population of Weber County over a three-day period as part of the Point In Time census project that counts the homeless population
The Point In Time census is a yearly count with more than 3,000 participating cities and counties, according to the OneCPD Resource Exchange. The counts are organized locally, with all the counts being conducted during the last 10 days of January.
The survey attempts to reach an accurate count of the homeless on a single “point in time.” This number is used to help both private and government agencies assess how to best serve the homeless population.
The project counts both the sheltered and the unsheltered homeless. Volunteers were commissioned to help count the unsheltered homeless for the Weber County Point In Time count. Laura Peters, a Weber State University student, helped with the agency count in Weber County as part of her field practicum.
“We have volunteers who are going out into the streets and trying to go where people may be that are homeless,” Peters said. “They try to be able to get an accurate count of the homeless.”
Private and government agencies typically provide the count for the sheltered homeless. Volunteers are usually used to count the unsheltered homeless. Those considered “unsheltered” are the homeless who are not currently receiving shelter from any agency, private or government.
“Now the (unsheltered) homeless have to be counted as people who are living not in a shelter,” Peters said, “but in a car, or in a tent, or an unsafe building, and we don’t even count individuals who have been sleeping on a friend’s couch or even at St. Anne’s shelter.”
The volunteers search the area for homeless camps. The homeless individuals are given surveys to fill out that help agencies know what services are needed.
St. Anne’s provided “hat lunches”— a hat containing a sandwich, gloves and bottled water — to the homeless individuals who filled out the survey.
Agencies provided information for the count as well. Peters, who was in charge of the agency Point in Time count, contacted various agencies for count information.
“Different agencies — even correctional facilities, hospitals, emergency rooms — those were the agencies that I contacted,” Peters said.
She said the information gathered through the count is important to state and local agencies because it can determine the amount of funds they are given to help the homeless.
“On a national level and within the state, it is so important, because we can receive community funds that help homelessness if we can prove we have a homeless population,” Peters said. “If we can show our numbers are appropriate, there is federal funding available for community groups and grants available for individual agencies and things like that. St. Anne’s and other agencies like that would benefit greatly. The money comes from the government to the state, and is divided by the needs of the county.”
The Weber County Point in Time count took place over the course of three days, Jan. 30 to Feb. 1.