The Pierce County Department of Community Connections and Tacoma-Lakewood-Pierce County Continuum of Care to End Homelessness are looking for volunteers to gather census data of the homeless population and those on the verge of becoming homeless in Pierce County. The Point in Time annual survey is scheduled on Friday, Jan. 29. More than 200 volunteers are needed county-wide to survey individuals and families at meal sites, day shelters, health clinics, and on the streets.
“Homelessness any time of year is hard, but during the winter months it is especially difficult,” said Tammy Boros, Chair of the Tacoma-Lakewood-Pierce County Continuum of Care. “On Jan. 29, volunteers will cover the entire county to document the number of individuals, families, and unaccompanied youth that are currently outside. The Point in Time Count helps inform our community of the need for homeless services. From this information we are able to better coordinate our community’s efforts to make homelessness rare, brief, and one time.”
The Point in Time survey is in its 20th year. The data collected provides a picture of the homeless issues in Pierce County, drives planning efforts and leverages public and private funding for homeless housing and services. Volunteers are crucial to obtaining a successful count. Last year, volunteers helped count more than 1,280 homeless in our county, including 757 individuals and 154 families with 314 children.
Interested participants must attend one of the scheduled orientations prior to volunteering. At the orientation, volunteers will learn the reasons for the survey, the process by which data is collected, and safety information. Volunteer opportunities vary from helping at one of six Point in Time events in Tacoma, Lakewood, Gig Harbor, and Spanaway areas, conducting surveys at a designated clinic, foodbank, or shelter, and joining an outreach professional to conduct surveys in a targeted neighborhood.
Orientations will be held:
3602 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98418
Tuesday, Jan. 12: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Jan. 22: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 25: 6 to 7:30 p.m.
6000 Main Street SW, Lakewood, WA 98499
Wednesday, Jan. 13: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
414 Spring St., Puyallup, WA 98372
Friday, Jan. 15: 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Donations of personal items such as clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, jackets, socks, gloves, hats, scarves, duffle bags, non-perishable food, bottled water, can openers, towels, flashlights/batteries, and toiletries can be delivered to MDC Learning Center at 721 S. Fawcett St, Suite 204 in Tacoma; or the University of Washington Cherry Parkes Building at 1900 Commerce St. 3rd Floor, Office 302 in Tacoma, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
To volunteer or for more information about the 2016 survey, contact Valerie Pettit at Pierce County Community Connections by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (253) 798-7658.
Tess Colby, Community Connections