Point In Time organizations seeking volunteers

Annual homelessness count a month away

The 2020 Point In Time count is near the end of January, but organizations in Jefferson and Clallam counties are already hosting information sessions for their volunteers.

The Point in Time (PIT) count is a nationwide count on Jan. 23 of anyone living in a tent, car, school bus, sidewalk or any other place not meant for habitation.

People at risk of homelessness such as those couch surfing or doubled up and living with others also are counted.

Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP) is organizing the count and volunteers for Jefferson County and Serenity House of Clallam County are overseeing Clallam’s count.

“The yearly count of community members who find themselves homeless or living in conditions that are not meant for human habitation matters,” said Kathy Morgan, OlyCAP director of housing and community development.

“It matters because it shows the need for safe, clean, affordable housing in our community.”

Both OlyCAP and Serenity House have volunteer information meetings scheduled next week and in January.

Training

Serenity House will host its first training/information session from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Monday at the Serenity House administration building at 2203 W. 18th St., Port Angeles.

Brian Fullerton of the state Department of Commerce is expected to lead the training, said Lacey Fry, executive assistant and lead organizer of PIT for Serenity House.

“This is really an opportunity for us to get as many people in the room as possible,” Fry said. “We have community volunteers. We have organizations that help, and right now we’re just trying to reach out and get as many interested parties as possible.”

For OlyCAP, an organizational and training meeting is set for 3 p.m. Wednesday at OlyCAP’s conference room located at 731 W Park Ave., Port Townsend.

“Our theme this year is PIT Commit, which means we are looking for people committed to helping with the count as well as people willing to commit to being counted,” said Allison Arthur, OlyCAP senior housing manager.

“The trainings are free, informative and vital to ensure accuracy.”

The number of people counted each year in Jefferson County has varied from a high of 355 individuals and families surveyed in 2015 to a low of 97 people counted as homeless in 2014, Arthur said.

The number of individuals counted in Clallam County in 2019 was 233, for both sheltered and unsheltered people, Fry said.

“The PIT count really gives us an image of who is out there and where they’re gathering and what services they need most,” Fry said.

“This is really important because it tells us how we need to direct our programs, where there are gaps in services where we can create new ones, and also helps us relay that information to the county and to commerce … and tells them where funding may need to be opened up.”

OlyCAP already has some people who have been housed through their services volunteering, as well as those who are currently experiencing homelessness, Arthur said.

“Already, people who have experienced homelessness in the last year have stepped forward, anxious to connect with those in need of housing,” Arthur said. “They know what it feels like to be homeless and they know what it feels like to be housed.”

OlyCAP has a formal training on Jan. 6 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in its conference room, where PIT representatives from the state Department of Commerce will be in attendence to explain the importance of the PIT and what information needs to be gathered.

Serenity House will host additional training sessions in January. Fry is hoping to have sessions scheduled the week of Jan. 6 and the week of Jan. 13.

Those interested in volunteering in Clallam County are encouraged to visit www.clallampitcount.org and click the “take action” icon to get to the volunteer form.

Those interested in volunteering in Jefferson County can contact Arthur at 360-385-2571, ext. 6349, or email [email protected] with PIT Count Volunteer in the subject line.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at [email protected].

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