Sacramento prepares for homeless street count: volunteers still needed for this important event

Volunteer for the point-in-time Homeless Street Count on Jan. 24, 2013, and make a difference for our community and those in need.

The biennial Homeless Street Count is an effort to learn more about the individuals and families experiencing homelessness on any given night in Sacramento County. Information collected helps us better understand why they are homeless, so we can refine existing programs to best serve those in need.

The Homeless Count captures a snapshot of those who are unsheltered – literally sleeping outside – on the street, in a car or abandoned building on the night of the canvass. Information collected will also provide important data for the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

During the 2011 Homeless Count, more than 400 volunteers and members of law enforcement participated, including Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna. “Documenting the condition and circumstances of our homeless population every two years helps guide important policy decisions and local resource allocation,” said Serna.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires local communities to perform the Homeless Street Count every two years during the last 10 days of January to demonstrate federal funding eligibility for emergency shelter operations and transitional and permanent supportive housing projects. Sacramento Steps Forward, the primary recipient for these funds, receives approximately $15 million annually to contract with community agencies to provide housing and services for homeless men, women and children.

On the night of the count, volunteers will meet at a staging location to receive their assignment. Teams consisting of trained volunteer counters, a team leader, law enforcement and a homeless advisor will disperse to survey homeless individuals in more than 50 designated geographic areas throughout Sacramento County.

Volunteer counters and team leaders must complete a two-hour training session prior to the night of the count. Training dates are available Jan. 14-19, at various times and locations.

Additional roles are available to support event logistics, including registration and staging assistance on the night of the count. All volunteers must be at least 16 years old.

If you are interested in more information about the Homeless Street Count or want to volunteer Jan. 24, please visit www.handsonsacto.org or email us at info@handsonsacto.org.

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Disclosure: Ben Burton is the executive director of Sacramento Steps Forward. Contact him at bburton@sacstepsforward or 916-577-9785.

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January 15, 2013 | 10:04 AM

Thanks for posting this. I volunteered two years ago, and it was a memorable experience. I’m doing it again this year. If anyone is worried about signing up, don’t… there are 3-4 people in each group, accompanied by a police officer. It’s very well organized. It’s a worthwhile effort.

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