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May 26, 2022

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Clark County Point in Time count, resource fair delayed due to virus

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

The Council for the Homeless’ annual Project Homeless Connect and the national Point in Time count have been rescheduled for Feb. 24 due to surging omicron outbreaks in Clark County.

The resource fair at St. Joseph Catholic Church serves as a means for unhoused people to get connected to free services and resources. In the past, attendees received haircuts, hygiene items, clothes, employment resources and a hot meal.

Most of all, the hospitality given to attendees is integral to the resource fair, said Clara Johnson, Council for the Homeless coordinated outreach director.

“It’s a great opportunity for community members to know that they are a part of our community and that they do matter,” she said.

Due to continually increasing omicron variant infections, Council for the Homeless postponed the event. Laura Ellsworth, strategic partnerships and advocacy manager, said the organization will continue to prioritize access to resources in a way that is safe while still looking at how to mitigate COVID-19’s effects in the houseless population.

“The virus doesn’t care about someone’s housing status,” said Sunny Wonder, diversion supervisor.

Although omicron’s symptoms can be more mild than previous coronavirus variants, Ellsworth said, there’s a difference between being sick in a warm, comfortable bed or being sick when living outside.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also postponed the Point in Time count, an annual census of sheltered and unsheltered unhoused people, until Feb. 24. The two events happen the same day, as outreach teams are delegated with the task of capturing a glimpse of homelessness in the county.

Agencies and nonprofits conduct the single-day census every January to better understand the current nature of homelessness. More than 3,000 communities across America conduct the survey; data from the survey is reported to agencies to determine the effectiveness of local efforts to mitigate homelessness.

The count contributes to future community planning and management in ending homelessness. It is the main source for measuring progress and various subpopulations, such as those who are veterans, families and the youth.

Teams canvass areas to find people who are outside or in their vehicles. Surveys gather information relative to what contributed to one’s homelessness, their last address, and other demographic information.

How to help

Council for the Homeless created an Amazon Wish List as a part of its pandemic response, where people can purchase essential supplies on behalf of the organization. Those who want to organize a supply drive are encouraged to reach out to Charlene Welch, development and communications director, to help navigate the effort. Further information on what supplies to donate can be found on the organization’s website.

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