Illustration of a homeless man in Cache Valley. The Annual Point In Time count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people will take place later this month. It is a federally mandated program and they are looking for volunteers.
LOGAN – The Annual Point In Time count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless is a federally mandated program and they are looking for volunteers in Northern Utah to help determine the amount of homelessness in Cache, Box Elder and Rich counties.
Jess Lucero, the Department head of Utah State University’s Social Work program, is the leader of the 2022 Bear River Homeless Point In Time Count to be held later this month.
The annual point in time count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless is a federally mandated program and they are looking for volunteers.
Lucero was on KVNU’s For The People program and joined Jason Williams to talk about the need for volunteers to count the homeless in the Bear River tri-county area.
“We have our annual point in time sheltered and unsheltered homeless count that is a federally mandated,” she said. “The count happens across the country on the same night. It will begin on the night of Wednesday Jan. 26, and the early morning on Thursday, Jan. 27 and will go until the early morning of Saturday Jan. 29.”
People doing the counting will be working between 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. The count identifies homeless people in the area, gives surveyors a snapshot of what conditions and types of places they are staying in and the number of people that are trying to survive on the streets.
“It is a tough issue,” Lucero said. “We don’t want to see a high count of unsheltered and homelessness in our community, but we want a more accurate count of the unsheltered and sheltered homeless people in our area.”
The count helps get a better picture and the true extent of the problem in the communities we live in. The data from the count gives decision and policy makers in the community and the state what is happening to help them. The information has a direct effect on the funding that comes to the community from the state and federal government.
“In 2019, we had about 57 unsheltered homeless folks in our community. Last year we had around 40 homeless people,” Lucero said. “We don’t know how accurate and comprehensive those counts are; those are the folks we are able to locate.”
There is homelessness in our community, and they are often unseen; they are not visible to the community.
“They are living in cars or camp trailers without running water and heat,” she said. “They are taking shelter in storage units and sheds or other ways they can fashion some way to keep warm in our community.”
Most of these people want to keep this to themselves, they don’t want to be found, they don’t want other people to know about their struggles.
“We don’t have a formal emergency shelter in our community, but we do have faith leaders and non-profits and Bear River Association of Governments who are working to help people going though unsheltered homelessness and get them into hotels, especially on those cold winter nights,” Lucero said. “So, connecting with those who are experiencing homelessness right now is also important through this count as well. It’s not just about getting the count, it’s about reaching out to those in that situation.”
The professor said the most important thing that the general public can do to help is to understand what resources are available. There are Utah Families Feeding Families, 4 Helping Hearts, Cache Valley Veterans Association, CAPSA and New Hope in Brigham City and others can be found on their website.
Volunteers can register online by contacting Jessica.Lucero@usu.edu or Jaynine Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer to help count the unsheltered homeless people in the Bear River area.