The Point-in-Time Count will take place on Wednesday, January 29, 2020. This is the one night each year when our community comes together to survey each person experiencing sheltered or unsheltered homelessness. It is also the time when we capture temporary and permanent housing capacity across the housing continuum. To read more about the kick-off to the 2020 Point-in-Time Count planning activities, click here.
The Point-in-Time Count is more than a funding requirement; it serves as an important reminder that, behind every data point, is a person who counts. In 2018, Charlotte-Mecklenburg branded our Point-in-Time Count as Everybody Counts Charlotte to call attention to both the fact that we must ensure that everyone is counted, and because each individual matters. By enumerating the problem of homelessness, the Point-in-Time Count activities is also a call to action.
This blog post provides information on volunteer opportunities, from conducting surveys to ensure everyone is counted, to donating winter-weather items, and including raising awareness about the need for more affordable housing.
SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER TODAY
Each year, our community relies on volunteers to conduct surveys with people who are experiencing homelessness. This is the most important work, and not just because it is mandated by the federal government. Most of the survey questions are required by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and are consistent across all communities conducting Point-in-Time Counts. Our survey features additional, locally-generated questions that can help inform planning, funding and policy-making decisions here in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. As an example, for the past three years we have asked the individuals experiencing homelessness if they are from Mecklenburg County, or from other communities. The response has been consistent: a majority of individuals who are experiencing homelessness on the night of the Point-in-Time Count are from our community.
All volunteers receive training to complete the surveys, which is done by way of an online app. We will be completing surveys with individuals and families in emergency shelters, in transitional housing, and in unsheltered locations. Shifts are available at a variety of times, locations. and days. Surveys start on Monday, January 27 and end on Sunday, February 2. You, your friends, and family members can sign up by clicking this link. The last day to sign up is January 17, 2020 to ensure training opportunities prior to the event.
DONATE WINTER WEATHER ITEMS
You can also participate by donating winter weather items for distribution to individuals and families experiencing unsheltered homelessness during the Point-in-Time Count. There are two primary ways to provide needed supplies (links provided below):
- Winter Item Wishlist. Donate winter items including tents, tarps, gloves, and bottled water by ordering through an AmazonPrime Wishlist. Items ship for free and will be distributed during the Unsheltered Count to people sleeping outside.
- Toiletry Kits. Collect and assemble toiletry kits. This is a great way to participate with your family, friends, and colleagues. Click here to download the list and instructions. You can also access discussion guides for groups with adults and children to use as you prepare the toolkits.
You can also support the work of the Point-in-Time Count by raising awareness of the need for more affordable housing in our community. This year’s theme is Housing Counts. Each week leading up to the Point-in-Time Count, the Building Bridges Blog will share facts and information about housing solutions. Additional opportunities include using toolkits to engage your family, colleagues, and friends; attending public meetings; lending your voice by speaking up for housing in the community; and sharing information via social media. Information to help you connect to several of these opportunities is provided via this link.
The Point-in-Time Count can and must be more than just a required census activity for funding assistance. It offers our community the opportunity to see homelessness in a different way – as an individual’s face; a person’s name; someone’s story. Volunteers each year remark that it is impossible to forget the experience of that intimate conversation with a complete stranger, asking deeply personal questions in the midst of a traumatic situation. It changes you. And, hopefully, positively impacts the lives of the individuals and families dealing with homelessness by driving needed changes in the community.
The Point-in-Time Count is important work. It grounds us in the “why” behind what we do. This “why” compels us to sustain the call for solutions until the problem is solved.
The community’s shared responsibility is to take the Point-in-Time Count experience and do something with it. Please consider signing up to participate in some way. For more information, email PIT@mecknc.gov or visit www.EverybodyCountsCLT.org
And remember: Because Everybody Counts, Housing Counts.
Courtney LaCaria coordinates posts on the Building Bridges Blog. Courtney is the Housing & Homelessness Research Coordinator for Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. Courtney’s job is to connect data on housing instability, homelessness and affordable housing with stakeholders in the community so that they can use it to drive policy-making, funding allocation and programmatic change.