Volunteer to help with unsheltered homeless count, next 1-hour training is Jan. 15
U.S. VETS Prescott is seeking volunteers willing to spend a few days surveying those who, for at least one night in January, are left to sleep in the elements — be it in the woods, under a bridge or anywhere that is not officially considered to be shelter.
Every year, the Arizona Department of Housing selects a lead agency to do what is known as a “Point-In-Time” count of the homeless in the state’s 15 counties. This year’s PIT count is scheduled between Jan. 22 and Jan. 26 with surveyors asking participants where they slept on the night of Jan. 21.
This year, U.S. VETS Prescott will be surveying the homeless on the west side of the county and Catholic Charities will be surveying those on the other side of Mingus Mountain, from Cottonwood to Camp Verde. U.S. VETS Prescott is charged with covering the entire quad-city area and some of the smaller towns beyond, including Skull Valley, Yarnell, Paulden, Wilhoite, Ash Fork, Bagdad, even Cordes Junction and Black Canyon City.
Volunteers will be administering surveys in both English and Spanish to the homeless men, women and families they encounter at places throughout the county, including stations at several area public libraries, food pantries and emergency shelters. The volunteer two- to three-member teams, with each to include an experienced count leader, will also visit more remote, hidden spots where the homeless camp for a night or more.
Each survey will take between five and 10 minutes depending on the person’s cooperation, said U.S. VETS Prescott Outreach Specialist Naomi King. She is working with Program Manager Tim Laskowski.
The two said the surveys are all about collecting basic demographic information able to assist state housing leaders with allocation of funds to aid in homelessness prevention and service. The surveys will note age and gender — no first or last names are required — residence of origin, length of time in area, length and periods of homelessness, cause of homelessness, any reliance on homeless services in the past and whether the individual is a veteran. The survey also seeks information on those who are 25 and under.
All of the information that is collected is confidential, King said. All of the volunteers sign a confidentiality waiver as part of their required training, with each session lasting no more than an hour, she explained.
Anyone wishing to volunteer to assist with the annual Point-in-Time unsheltered homeless count can contact Naomi King, outreach specialist at U.S. VETS Prescott. A one-session, one-hour training is required for all volunteers.
The next training for this year’s count is on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. in the Catholic Charities office at 434 W. Gurley St.
An additional training session may also be available prior to the count. Contact King at 928-379-1763 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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