Volunteers needed for annual survey of homelessness

Volunteers organized by the Local Homeless Coordinating Committee will attempt to survey and count homeless persons in Cache Valley overnight on Jan. 27.

CACHE COUNTY – An annual survey of local homeless persons will take place in Cache Valley overnight on Jan. 27.

“Every year, nationally, there is what is called a point-in-time count,” according to Logan City Councilmember Amy Anderson. “That’s a date (in late January) when, across the nation, communities go out and count the number of homeless persons.”

That survey is conducted by local agencies on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD uses the data from the PIT count to evaluate the effectiveness of local agencies’ effort to address homelessness and to determine federal funding allocations.

Anderson said that the PIT survey in Cache Valley is being coordinated by Dr. Jess Lucero, a Utah State University social work professor, as the university’s representative to the Local Homeless Coordinating Committee (LHCC).

Lucero said that LHCC is looking for concerned volunteers to conduct the PIT survey on the evening of Jan. 27 and continuing into the early morning hours of Jan. 28.

Local residents can volunteer by calling Lucero at 307-221-3515 or clicking on the following link: https://bit.ly/cachePITcount

Online training will then be provided so that volunteers can effectively administer the four-question PIT survey.

The benefits of the annual point-in-time count, Lucero explained, include providing evidence of the extent of the homeless problem for elected officials and decision-makers; increasing community awareness of the issue; connecting homeless individuals with resources and services; and increasing the chances of obtaining more funding in our community for homeless services.

According to HUD reports derived from the 2019 PIT count, there were nearly 2,800 homeless persons in Utah at that time. Of that number, 1,971 were in emergency shelters, 419 were in traditional housing and 408 were considered to be unsheltered.

“Unsheltered homelessness is considered to be sleeping somewhere not fit for human habitation,” according to Anderson. “That means cars, sheds, storage units, tents, camper trailers without running water or heat, outdoors or in 24-hour establishments.”

The PIT count in 2019 found only four unsheltered homeless people in Cache Valley. By January of 2020, that local count had risen to 59 unsheltered homeless persons, including 43 heads of homeless households and 16 minor children.

While Anderson acknowledges that a portion of that increase is undoubtedly due to a more comprehensive survey effort last year, local officials are nevertheless concerned about how the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic may have impacted the problem of homelessness in Cache Valley.

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