BEND, OR -- The annual Homeless Leadership Coalition Point-in-Time homeless county takes place this week. Coalition Chair Colleen Thomas says the HUD-mandated survey is conducted every year across the tri-county area and Warm Springs Reservation. "The reason for the point-in-time count is for agencies to connect with individuals who are experiencing homelessness across our region, to better collect data and understand the scope of what the people experiencing homelessness in our region are facing." Volunteers tally those living in shelters, transitional housing, living with family or friends, camping or living in cars, or in other places not designed for human habitation.
Thomas tells KBND News over 1,300 people were counted and categorized as "precariously housed," "sheltered," or literally homeless, in 2018. "We use that data to better understand the barriers and different situations that folks are facing and to say, 'this is the scope of our crisis of individuals experiencing homelessness in our region' and deploy more resources for our area."
While the count is required to access federal funding through Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Thomas says it's also an opportunity for the coalition to connect with the homeless and provide resources. They also provide incentives for people to participate, "Food, water, dog food, and some places might even have some gift cards for folks. It's just a better way for us to understand the scope of the issue that we're seeing in Central Oregon."
The count takes place Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at local churches, social service organizations, food banks and some camp sites and parks. Click HERE for a complete schedule.