Keeping count: Volunteers to tally homeless

Katie Kowalski news@ptleader.com
Posted 1/17/17

Volunteers are spreading out across Jefferson County Jan. 23-29 to tally the number of homeless people in the county as part of a nationwide count.

The federal- and state-initiated point-in-time …

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Keeping count: Volunteers to tally homeless

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Volunteers are spreading out across Jefferson County Jan. 23-29 to tally the number of homeless people in the county as part of a nationwide count.

The federal- and state-initiated point-in-time (PIT) count is typically done during the third week in January to provide a snapshot of the number of homeless people.

The count is tied to federal and state housing funds, said Kathy Morgan, housing director for Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), a social service agency that helps people with housing in both Jefferson and Clallam counties.

In past years, the number counted in Jefferson County has fluctuated because of the number of volunteers who participated, she said.

In 2006, there were 114 people counted in the PIT count. That dropped to 111 people in 2012, rose to 124 people in 2013 and then dropped to 97 in 2014.

The count was the highest ever in 2015, at 355 individuals and families, while last year, 282 people were counted.

“We don’t think there are less homeless,” Morgan said of last year’s count. “We just didn’t have the volunteers concentrating in areas of high homelessness.”

She encourages people interested in participating this year to reach out to her so that the county can get an accurate number, she said.

HOMELESSNESS

People are defined homeless if they live in a place deemed by the state to be unfit for human habitation, such as a place that lacks one of the following utilities: heat, water, septic or electricity.

Anyone living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, cars, parks, garages, sidewalks or on the street should be included in the count.

For the first time, Morgan said, she is seeing community members become homeless for reasons that have nothing to do with being jobless or because of crime or drug addition.

They’re becoming homeless because of the housing market picking up: Owners who were once renting out their homes can now sell them, and families are left with no other places to rent, she said.

“They are so frightened that this is really happening to them,” Morgan said.

“We are going to do everything we can to show [the new administration] there is a high need for funding in our little place on the peninsula.”

Information sought includes age and gender. All information is optional and all personal information is considered confidential.

Anyone interested in volunteering can email Morgan at

kmorgan@OlyCAP.org.

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