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Volunteers Needed for Homeless Count

Volunteers, ages 18 and older, need to complete an hour training session and can sign up online

By Bay City News Service

Contra Costa County is still seeking volunteers to help count the area's homeless population on Jan. 30. The county's health services department relies on volunteers to take the biennial "point-in-time" count, which gathers data the department needs to secure state and federal funding, said Lavonna Martin, the county's acting director of homeless programs.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and are required to complete a one-hour training session. During the two-hour count on the morning of Jan. 30, volunteers in different parts of the county will set out by car in teams of two to scour streets and parks for the homeless.

By the county's definition, that includes those who are living in their cars. The tally of the outdoor homeless population is also paired with the number of individuals staying in homeless shelters, Martin said.

"This count really allows us to assess the extent of homelessness in Contra Costa County," she said.

County estimates show that more than 7,000 people in the county experienced homelessness last year. In addition to providing a numerical estimate, the count is also a tool to help the county understand the root causes of homelessness, Martin said. In recent years, the economic downturn has been a common underlying factor for many of the county's homeless, she noted.

Homelessness strikes Contra Costa residents of all ages. Last year, some 43 percent of the local homeless population was under 24-years-old, according to Martin. For the upcoming count, the county plans to focus on its relationship with youth services organizations and schools to help provide resources for homeless children and families.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering for the homeless count may call (925) 313-6124, send an email to homelessprogram@hsd.cccounty.us or fill out an online application form at http://cchealth.org/services/homeless/.

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

Beau Hunk January 19, 2013 at 02:31 AM
The more, the merrier and the more, the money. Is there any motivation to "pad" the count just a little bitsy bit?
MandragoraMaggie January 19, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Beau Hunk, I don't think your cynical comment is appropriate here on a platform asking for volunteers to help those who are really in need. Why not use your energy to help instead of making silly innuendos?
paul hoffman January 19, 2013 at 11:33 PM
I used to be involved with writing grant applications for an organization in another county, that provided services to the homeless and near-homelessness population. An accurate homeless count helps draw funding for the area, from both government and private sector sources. This is important for these every-other-year counts, but even more important during 10 year census data gathering. Many towns say they don't have a homeless population or "problem". Although not familiar with the numbers in the largely affluent Central Contra County corridor, I found the cities in Alameda County's Tri Valley Area did have significant levels of homelessness. (And the almost homeless but not counted, as they were staying on friends or relatives' couches or in their spare rooms.)

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