Teams of volunteers and social service workers fanned out across Central Oregon Monday…counting the homeless.
It’s called the “Point In-Time Count.”
The results help governments and non-profits better understand the nature and extent of a growing population here.
It’s not just the people who are living in their cars alongside the road or are camped in the woods.
It includes people who live in shelters such as here at Bethlehem Inn. They are homeless as well.
“The Point In Time Count assesses how many people don’t have a home,” said Gwenn Wysling, Bethlehem Inn executive director. “We at Bethlehem Inn are serving a number of that population here. They are sheltered while they are here. Our job is to get them somewhere better than a shelter.”
Everyone involved in surveying the homeless population is using a mobile app that compiles the information in a central database.
“This morning I was at Family Kitchen surveying folks that were getting lunch there,” said Katie De Vito, Deschutes County homeless outreach coordinator. “I explain to them what it is, some questions I’ll be asking. It’s an effort to get more funding and opportunity to our region.”
One year ago, nearly 1,100 people met the definition of homeless—living in emergency shelters, transitional housing or motels paid for by an agency, or living in places not meant for human habitation such as a car, on the street or camping on public lands.
“We have all week to count but we are picking tonight, January 24 of where people are sleeping. It’s really our only opportunity for a snapshot of seeing the size of our houseless issue here and it’s super important,” De Vito said.
We are gathering some basic data so we know how many men, women, children, families, veterans, folks that are disabled are homeless,” Wysling said. “The whole categories that can contribute to the reasons why people are homeless.”
To mitigate the spread of COVID, most of the fieldwork is being done by service providers who already support the homeless population, know where to find them and how to reach them.