01/25/2009: "How Many Homeless In SJC?"
The Washington Homelessness Housing and Assistance Act requires all counties to conduct the Count annually. In passing the Act in 2005, the legislature set a goal of reducing homelessness statewide by half within ten years (by 2015).
San Juan County Health & Community Services will conduct the annual Point in Time Count of Homeless Persons (PIT) on Thursday, January 29th.
PIT Count organizers expect to find an increase in the number of homeless people in San Juan County this year due to the worldwide economic crisis and local business closures.
San Juan County PIT Count organizers and volunteers will be contacting local schools, food banks, churches, healthcare providers, support service counselors, youth groups, Senior Centers, Family Resource Centers, Sheriff’s department, Fire and EMS departments and other community organizations to help with this year’s count. Facilities that are not open on Thursdays may conduct their count on a different day during the same week.
The Count will gather information about people identifying themselves as homeless, including approximate age, if they have dependant children who are also homeless, whether they have a disability, a drug or alcohol addiction, if they are chronically homeless or if they have a temporary living situation with friends or relatives (a circumstance known as “couch surfing”).
All personal information will be kept confidential. Personally identifying information such as names, birthdays, addresses, etc., cannot be collected unless written consent is obtained from the person providing the information. The information gathered in San Juan County will be provided to the State of Washington Department of Community Trade & Economic Development, which administers the Count statewide.
Last year’s count identified 9 San Juan County residents who had no shelter and 17 more who were temporarily living with friends or family. In 2006 the numbers were: 11 unsheltered and 17 people with temporary places to stay.
San Juan County has a Ten Year Homelessness Prevention Plan in place; however there are very limited financial and supportive resources to address the problem. Recently the County Council did approve a Senior Rent Subsidy Program to help qualifying, extremely low income seniors deal with housing costs.
For questions about this years count or to get involved, please contact Angie Lausch, Affordable Housing Coordinator, San Juan County Health & Community Services at (360) 370-7526 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org