Del Norte County’s annual census of local homeless persons will be starting again soon and while the Department of Health and Human Services says it has plenty of volunteers, there are still ways the public can help.
“We’re always looking for gently-used items like sleeping bags and camping equipment,” said DHHS Coordinator Jesse Ferguson.
Volunteers will soon be going into areas where homeless are known to camp, stay or take refuge. The count begins Jan. 23 and efforts will continue to month’s end.
“During a seven-day period, local volunteers and service providers conduct surveys at various locations within the communities to gather information on homeless persons, such as length of time being homeless, potential need of local services for mental health, addiction issues, food assistance, Veterans resources, and reasons for being homeless,” according to a DHHS information report.
The Point-in-Time count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in order to receive state and federal funding and also seeks to identify the number of homeless individuals and families in each county across the United States, a DHHS report said.
Asked if the department could use volunteers this year, Ferguson said volunteers from True North Organizing Network and Crescent City Foursquare Church have stepped up to help, filling the need for volunteers. In recent months, the two organizations have been involved in several aspects of researching homelessness to find local solutions. Through True North, a local task force has formed and both the county Board of Supervisors and the Crescent City Council have pledged to make ending local homelessness a priority.
Out of hiding
Ferguson noted a recent decision by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has brought some homeless folks out of the woods and into areas closer to the city and amenities. He said the more visible presence of people may help the count this year, which will help surveyors.
“They’re more out in the open,” he said. “That will definitely work in our favor.”
While efforts have recently begun in an effort to end local homelessness, the county has been conducting Point-In-Time counts for many years to gather information and resources to deal with the issue.
“Utilization of the Point-in-Time count can capture relevant information in an effort to begin working toward solution-based approaches related to homelessness,” according to the DHHS report. “Without the count, services and programs that serve homeless persons, including any future funding of such programs, would be negatively impacted.”
Residents may drop off used camping equipment and supplies at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 810 H St., on Jan. 22 from noon to 4:30 p.m. Surveyors will offer those items to those in need while the survey is conducted.
For more information regarding the Point-In-Time efforts in Del Norte County, call Rebecca Green at 707-464-3191 ext. 2611 or Ferguson at 707-464- 3191 ext. 2652.