Volunteers help with Point in Time survey
Volunteers from non-profits, churches and other groups were stationed Tuesday in Brookings and Gold Beach to count homeless in Curry County for the annual Point in Time Count.
The people were organized by the Curry Homeless Coalition. CHC was contracted by Oregon Coast Community Action, which oversees the count for both Coos and Curry counties.
“We had such a great outpouring of volunteers this year,” said CHC Director Beth Barker-Hidalgo.
The Point in Time Count is done every year, tallying as many homeless individuals as possible in communities throughout the nation. The count provides information to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Homeless were being counted Jan. 28 at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church and the Curry County Resource Center in Brookings and at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Gold Beach. A count was held in Port Orford last week.
Lunch is served at St. Timothy's, the Brookings Harbor Food Bank is across the street from the resource center on Railroad Street and there is a food pantry at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
“We try to co-locate with other service providers that they already seek on a regular basis,” Barker-Hidalgo said.
Dave Hubbard, who works with veterans through Oregon Coast Community Action, manned the count at St. Timothy’s.
“What we will be giving out is a backpack some snacks, some hygiene products, socks, scarf, some gloves, hat, basically stuff to try to keep you warm, keep you fed, and to carry the stuff in,” Hubbard said. “Each one of the backpacks has a resource guide in there so they can reach out when they are ready.”
Hubbard knows all too well what the homeless are going through. Since turning his life around, he has been helping with the Point in Time Counts for the past four years.
“I know where those individuals are coming from and that is part of where my passion comes from,” he said. “It was some random individual that reached a hand out to help me up out of the place that I was in. That basically saved my life.”
Hubbard thought more people would be counted this year than in past years.
“Just seeing how things are going, we may get more participation this year,” Hubbard said.
In addition to counting people at the locations, volunteers went out and did “brush counts” in each community.
They ran out of backpacks in Brookings and got more from Gold Beach.
“Folks in south county ran out of supplies and they came up here,” Barker-Hidalgo said. “So we had more people than we had planned for. So that would suggest we did a really good job of outreach or we’ve had an increase in population, one of the two.”
Barker-Hidalgo led the homeless count in Gold Beach.
“We had a better count, we had more folks that we were able to capture here in Gold Beach than last year by my best recollection,” Barker-Hidalgo said. “Of course we won’t know until the data is actually analyzed to know how we did.”
People who are counted can give as much or as little information as they want, Hubbard and Barker-Hidalgo said. Ultimately, connecting people with services is their goal.
“We want to know how many there are for sure,” Barker-Hidalgo said. “But the whole point is to make sure that people understand there are resources and programs available and how to get them connected to those programs.”
In addition to the standard set of questions, Curry County following what was done in Coos County in 2019, asked six additional questions.
One of the questions was, “What brought you to Curry County?” Five options were provided — support (family/friends); employment; resources; environment/weather; and other.
Also, new this year was the “Counting Us” app. The mobile app was developed by Simtech Solutions to automate the collection of data for the annual homeless census. It is loaded directly to the homeless management information database, Barker-Hidalgo said.
“The more accurate count we can get this avails us to potential funding sources to increase services and to address the issues of homelessness in our community,” said Barker-Hidalgo of the importance of the count.