MEDFORD, Ore. -- Homelessness is a growing problem in Jackson County. To help get a better picture of how big that problem is, volunteers will soon spend a night counting how many people don't have a permanent place to live in the annual Point-In-Time or PIT Count.
"The point in time count is a snapshot of how many people are living homeless here in Jackson County and that means that they're living either in a temporary shelter, temporary living situation, or emergency shelter, or their living totally unsheltered," said Jackson County Continuum of Care manager Constance Wilkerson.
The idea is to figure out how much federal funding is needed to help those struggling to get resources. The federal government requires that the PIT Count is done every two years but Jackson County does it every year to see how well it's doing with homeless services. Last year, the count found 732 people in Jackson County were without a permanent place to call home. That's about 100 more than the year before.
"We are hopeful that in the coming years we will be able to end homelessness in Jackson County because we firmly believe that everyone should be sheltered. Everyone needs that stability in their lives," Wilkerson added.
ACCESS said while the PIT Count doesn't tell the whole story of homelessness in the county, it gives information about who doesn't have a permanent place to live.
As volunteers go around in the middle of the night, they will also hand out 264 backpacks full of every day necessities, like blankets, personal hygiene product, gloves, hats and socks.
"There's a need and it's a very concrete way of helping individuals who are homeless,” volunteer Don Bruland said. “I’m a volunteer who works at committees and boards around homeless issues but this is hands-on touching and it feels good because you know it makes a difference in people’s lives."
"I hope this helps them throughout the year when it's cold and everything," added Marissa Andersen.
If you would like to volunteer for the PIT count, you can contact Constance Wilkerson below: