Volunteers braced for a difficult night Tuesday afternoon as they prepared to head out into the sub-zero temperatures for the 2014 Point In Time count.
“The only thing we’re really doing differently because of the cold is trying to get to more indoor locations,” said Christina Blair, a consultant to Fayette County Community Action, who has been part of the annual event, focused on gathering information about the county’s homeless and at-risk residents. “People will be driven inside and will seek more shelter because of the cold. That will make it more of a challenge.”
Each year a night is chosen to gather information about homeless people in Ohio as a Point In Time count. Traditionally the count always is done is the winter — the fact that it always seems to fall on the coldest night of the year is merely a coincidence.
“We’ve been collecting all the donations and getting together care packages,” Blair said, noting that around 15 volunteers will be conducting the search. “It will take place from sunset (Tuesday) to sunrise (Wednesday). We’ll be carrying blankets, care packages, food and other items.”
Last year a grand total of 59 individuals were found to be either homeless or at-risk of homelessness in Fayette County.
Homeless individuals are encouraged to report themselves to Community Action or stop by the drop-in centers at Community Action or the Rose Avenue Community Center Wednesday between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Volunteers will seek out others at shelters or even possibly on the streets.
“If we do find anybody that is out on the streets tonight, we’ll try to locate them a place to stay,” Blair said. “We do encourage everybody to report themselves but we’re not relying on that. Our volunteers are still going to be doing the same things they always have. We’ll just be wearing more layers. We’re still going out and looking in the woods and places that we’ve found people in the past.”
After the count is completed, social service agencies that are part of the Continuum of Care will continue asking people where they slept Tuesday night so that they can gather all the information that is necessary to report to the state.
“We still expect to find people, but we think they’re going to be inside,” Blair said.