“The only way we can do a good job of preventing and ending homelessness is if we have a solid understanding of who is being affected and why,” said Shelley McKittrick, who recently joined the City of Aurora as its first director of Homelessness Programs. While McKittrick acknowledges that it is difficult to locate and count people in unstable and changing housing situations, she firmly believes new approaches offer the possibility of further strengthening the once a year Point In Time count of who is experiencing homelessness. The count is a collaborative effort among human services agencies, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, churches and other community members.
This year’s count will take place on Monday, January 30th. In addition to surveying people staying in shelters, several counties will also conduct surveys at key locations like libraries, grocery store parking lots, and parks. Early the next morning, trained volunteers will continue the count by observing, but not disturbing, individuals and families.
McKittrick believes taking the count beyond shelters is essential, noting that a large majority of people experiencing homelessness spend nights in locations other than shelters, including their cars, staying in motels paid for by an agency or on the streets. Likely locations to check on are being informed by individuals who themselves are homeless, along with local police departments, sheriffs’ offices, and staff with parks and rec departments.
Beyond the survey count, individuals and families will be connected with available services. “We will have the ability to provide vouchers for 50 motel rooms the night of the count, which is double the number typically available on cold weather nights,” said McKittrick. “We also will offer gift cards to people who give their time for the survey, and we’ll pay an hourly wage to folks helping us who themselves are homeless.
“What we learn will help us to better understand who is homeless, why they lost their housing, and the types of services and supports they need to once again secure a safe, stable home.”
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There are still opportunities to help conduct this year’s Point In Time survey.
Adams County – Contact Jack Patterson, Community Engagement Specialist, Adams County Housing Authority – email@example.com
Aurora County – Contact Shelley McKittrick, Director of Homelessness Programs – firstname.lastname@example.org
Denver Metro – Visit the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative website.
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