The Cambrian

Volunteers needed in Cambria, North Coast for annual homeless count

Here’s how SLO County counts its homeless population

San Luis Obispo County's Homeless Point-in-Time Homeless Census and Survey took place Jan. 30, 2017, to calculate the area's homeless population. Volunteers walked and drove around the county, recording any homeless individuals they saw.
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San Luis Obispo County's Homeless Point-in-Time Homeless Census and Survey took place Jan. 30, 2017, to calculate the area's homeless population. Volunteers walked and drove around the county, recording any homeless individuals they saw.

Volunteers are needed for a countywide “Homeless Point in Time” count to be done from 6 to 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 28.

Some volunteers will “help to drive and be a part of the ‘enumerations teams,’” Jessica Lorance, homeless-services specialist with the county’s Department of Social Services, said in a Jan. 16 email she sent to community members.

“The hope is to get some more volunteers,” said Blake Fixler, Supervisor Bruce Gibson’s new legislative assistant.

He said they are especially needed on the North Coast because local knowledge is crucial in finding and counting as many of the homeless as possible, especially in remote areas such as Cambria.

“Be they current homeless, former homeless or not at all homeless, all help is greatly appreciated,” he said.

Data from counts throughout the U.S. are sent to Congress for a national report on homelessness, Lorance said.

“Locally, it also helps us to better understand what populations of people are out there (such as families, veterans, etc.) and how many are unsheltered,” he said. “It has also sometimes affected how much homeless-assistance funding our community may receive from the state.”

Coastal volunteers are to gather at 6 a.m. Monday at the Morro Bay Department of Social Services office, 600 Quintana Road, to be trained and then assigned to an area in which they’ll tally the number of homeless.

Lorance said North County volunteers will meet at ECHO in Atascadero; South County at Hillside Church in Grover Beach; and volunteers in San Luis Obispo will meet at the Prado Center.

She hopes some homeless or formerly homeless people will volunteer to be guides for the teams. Those guides will be eligible for a $15-per-hour stipend (paid after they’ve completed the count in their assigned areas and have returned their completed paperwork that morning).

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