The Kern County Homeless Collaborative is looking for volunteers to help conduct the annual countywide Point-In-Time Count.
In order to make the count happen, the collaborative will need 500 volunteers to work in teams and span out across every part of Kern County to count and survey homeless people. New volunteers will be paired up with experienced volunteers and team leads.
“This count provides us with crucial information about a vulnerable population that is too often victimized and villainized,” said PIT Committee Chair Jan Lemucchi. “This annual event helps service providers, faith ministries, and government agencies to strategically address the needs of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.”
Last year, more than 400 people volunteered in the count, according to a news release.
“We want to improve on that this year,” said Lemucchi.
This year’s PIT will take place Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 from 4-8 a.m.
PIT is part of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development process that determines what federal funding is available for communities to tackle homelessness, said a news release.
“Strong volunteer turnout benefits the community by ensuring annual funding that provides crucial housing and supportive services for Kern County,” said Tina Posey, Housing Administrator at the Housing Authority of the County of Kern.
The count helps identify local trends among the homeless population, identifies challenges faced by families with children, unaccompanied youth, the chronically homeless, and veterans, and illuminates issues like housing access, mental illness, and transportation problems.
“Participating in PIT has been eye-opening for myself and others in the business community,” said Ian Sharples, Director of Public Affairs for the Income Property Association of Kern. “At a time when the city and county are considering measures to address homelessness, it is important that elected officials are able to make decisions based on accurate information rather than stereotypes. PIT provides that data.”
PIT volunteers must attend a two-hour training session to cover safety and best practices. Trainings will be offered several times in January at locations throughout Kern County. Details about the trainings will be sent to volunteers after registration. PIT volunteers will also be outfitted with the tools they need to conduct the count, including flashlights.
Registration is now open on Eventbrite.com (https://kc2020pit.eventbrite.com). Volunteers should fully answer the registration questions to ensure they are properly paired up with a team.
If volunteers have questions, contact Valerie D. Rodriguez, Homelessness Projects Assistant at United Way Of Kern County, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.