Annual Point-In-Time Survey Counts Homeless Population

Volunteers are counting how many people are homeless in Jackson County. NewsWatch 12's Eliana Sheriff explains how the annual point in time homeless count can benefit those struggling and why volunteers expect a better count this year.

Posted: Jan. 22, 2018 9:38 PM

MEDFORD, Ore.-- Volunteers walked around Jackson County Monday night trying to find those experiencing homelessness in our area.
The volunteers are filling out surveys with basic information questions, a history of homelessness, and disability status.
They're trying to get as many of these filled out and they think they'll have a better turnout this year since there's double the number of volunteers.

Volunteer Michael Whitfield says, "We just try to go off a grid and figure out where everyone is at. Not just to find out who they are but to offer them supplies, show them we care, and encourage them to seek services, that's one of my biggest missions is to encourage them to come out of homelessness."

About 40 volunteers split up across the county to find people living on the streets, in their cars, or in camps.

The idea is to get an accurate count so the homeless task force can figure out how much federal funding is needed to help those struggling to get resources.

Last year, the count found 633 people in Jackson County were without a permanent place to call home.

Michael Whitfield says, "Ten years ago I was a homeless veteran and coming out of the Rogue Valley Veteran's Outreach now, it's an amazing opportunity to give back."

Diana says this is her second year volunteering and she made an extra effort to get coats to give out to people she approaches to break the barrier.

Volunteer Diana Cooper says, “Most of the time I'm going out and seeing people that are cold. That's why I pushed so much to get the jackets because that was like my foot in the door. I can offer them a jacket and they'd do anything, not because of the jacket but because of that one act of kindness."

There will also be surveys completed at various sites through January 27.

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