The Point in Time count of the area’s homeless population will be different in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Council for the Homeless is having to cancel its 2021 Project Homeless Connect and the unsheltered component of the Point in Time count.
“Both events place people in direct contact with one another and the risk of COVID-19 infection for our neighbors who are homeless is too high,” the Vancouver nonprofit outlined in a news release Thursday.
The 2021 Point in Time count by Council for the Homeless will be a sheltered count only. It will consist of every person in severe weather, winter, or emergency shelter, in transitional housing or in the SafePark Program.
Those programs enter data into the Homeless Management Information System and a count will be determined on Jan. 28.
The Point in Time count, required by state law and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, helps inform homeless services, but it’s not considered comprehensive.
Many cities and counties throughout Washington are having to adjust due to the pandemic.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development granted permission to King County to not conduct the count over concerns around exposing volunteers and people being counted to the coronavirus, The Seattle Times reported.
Survey takers in Clark County’s 2020 Point in Time count recorded 916 people, including 516 people living outdoors. The 2020 count was completed before COVID-19 transmission was detected in Clark County.
With needs remaining high for the homeless population, the Council for the Homeless will have a resource drive and distribution of items. Amerigroup, PeaceHealth, Banfield Foundation, Living Hope Church, and partner nonprofit organizations will assist in the drive.
The resource drive will be Jan. 18-27. Items can be dropped off at Living Hope Church in front of the Live Love Center, 2711 N.E. Andresen Road, Vancouver.
Drop-off times are noon to 2:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and 5-7 p.m. on Fridays beginning Jan. 18.
A list of needed items can be found at https://www.councilforthehomeless.org/project-homeless-connect/.
Then on Jan. 28, homeless system outreach teams and groups already serving those who are experiencing homelessness will be invited to pickup and distribute items collected to those with whom they are already in contact.
Items not picked up will be stored and made accessible to outreach teams during the winter.
“This added precaution is to protect them while helping meet their most immediate needs during a time where accessing resources is difficult,” said Kate Budd, executive director of Council for the Homeless.