The count helps ensure communities get the funding needed to find long-term solutions to homelessness
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Ca.— Volunteers are encouraged to sign up now for the 2020 Point in Time Count, an annual survey of homeless adults and youth in cities and unincorporated communities across Riverside County.
More than 700 volunteers are needed for the 2020 count, which is scheduled for Jan. 29 through Jan 31. At that time, volunteers from nonprofits, churches and other groups will fan out across Riverside County’s 7,300 sq.-mile landscape. Organizers say widespread participation from those who know their communities and who can communicate with the homeless is essential to obtaining an accurate count.
“Homelessness is not an issue any one group or community can solve on their own,” says Natalie Profant Komuro, Deputy County Executive Officer. “We have to work together to get the most accurate count possible, which helps determine where we put those much-needed dollars and services to help our homeless neighbors get back on their feet.”
Some volunteers will count homeless adults during a single-day event, while others will count homeless youth under age 24 over three days. Those experienced with homeless youth say it can be difficult to readily identify young people who are living on the streets.
“They can initially appear similar to young people who have a safe, permanent place to rest their heads at night,” said Luis Lopez, coordinator for the 2020 Point in Time Youth Count. Lopez believes homeless youth in Riverside County are an undercounted population.
“We’re looking for more youth-friendly volunteers who can really connect with kids and teens to help them open up about their experiences with homelessness,” Lopez says. “Having a better sense of the scope of youth homelessness can help us get the funding needed to house this vulnerable population.”
The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities that receive funding, including Riverside County, to perform the count. The funds provide support and services, including housing, to help end homelessness.
The 2019 Count identified a total of 2,811 sheltered and unsheltered homeless adults and children countywide, a 21-percent increase from the 2018 count. The data helps track progress in the effort to end homelessness.
Training is required prior to the count. Volunteers must also have a smart phone or tablet to conduct the survey, be able to walk up to two hours and must be 18 or older. Volunteers ages 16-17 must be accompanied by an adult.
The Point In Time Count is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. The Youth Count is scheduled Jan. 29 – Jan. 31 from 2:00 to 8 p.m.
Interested participants can register at www.rivcoexchange.com.