Volunteers wanted for annual homeless count

WESTOVER — On Thursday, January 28, 2016 the Homeless Alliance for the Lower Shore (HALS) Continuum of Care (CoC) Committee will conduct the annual Point in Time count of sheltered and unsheltered individuals and families in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties. Volunteers will be needed to assist with this effort.


HUD requires Continuum of Care Committees to conduct a count of people experiencing homelessness living in unsheltered locations (cars, outdoors, abandoned building & places not meant for human habitation) as well as people residing in sheltered locations such as emergency and transitional shelters or motels/hotels paid for by another agency or church.


This year’s PIT count will continue the efforts of Youth REACH MD to identify the number of unaccompanied youth and young adults ages 24 years or younger who are not living with a parent or guardian and do not have a fixed, stable, permanent place to call home.


The HALS CoC has conducted these counts since 2001 as required by HUD.  Since that first count, the data collected has helped increase services to our tri-county area. Last year 27 chronically homeless individuals were found in shelters, but 24 were unsheltered. In addition, there were 37 victims of domestic violence counted on the count day in January 2015, and 10 of them were without a place to stay.


Permanent supportive housing units have been increased for individuals and families facing homelessness; shelter beds have been greatly increased to address the growing need for homeless services; and rapid rehousing and prevention grants have been awarded to each county.  Additionally, data has assisted in bringing homeless services specific to Veterans to the tri-county area, including permanent support housing units as well as Supportive Services for Veteran Families Programs. Last year eight were counted, and just six were in an emergency shelter or safe haven.


This count will help the HALS CoC continue to bring additional funds for homeless services and more affordable housing to the tri-county area.


Volunteers are needed and will be canvassing locations where people who are unsheltered may be located on Thursday, January 28, 2016 as well as conducting service based counts of people who are experiencing homelessness during the week. Volunteer training will be available on Thursday, Jan. 21 at the United Way office in Salisbury.


For more information on volunteering and training, please visit United Way’s Get Connected site: http://bit.ly/1ZxEALN . To encourage participation, each eligible survey participant will receive an incentive.   On January 28, each county Health Department (Worcester – Snow Hill, Berlin & Pocomoke sites, Somerset – Westover and Wicomico – E. Main Street) and Local Department of Social Services will be conducting surveys. Other survey locations include Seton Center in Princess Anne, WACS Center & Diakonia Shelter in West Ocean City, Samaritan Shelter & United Methodist Church in Pocomoke in and in Salisbury – Joseph House, Salvation Army, PRMC Emergency Department, One Stop Job and HALO.


For survey locations in each county – call 443-523-1815 for Somerset, 443-944-6894 for Worcester and 410-334-3031 for Wicomico. For more information on Homeless Alliance for the Lower Shore, go to http://somersethealth.org/HALS/HALhome.html.

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