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HONESDALE (Jan. 10, 2020) – The Wayne County Housing Department fields a cadre of volunteers in late January for the annual Point In Time (PIT) homeless count.
For several years, the county has been hitting the pavement and providing outreach efforts for those experiencing homelessness. This year, Housing Coordinator Vanessa McConnell said the County will hold its first ever “Come and Be Counted Event” for anyone who is unsheltered the night of January 22 to 23.
She said the warming station will be open from 8 am Jan. 23, until approximately 3 pm on the lower floor at 330 12th Street in Honesdale. The goal of Come and Be Counted is to capture any individuals and households, especially youth who are experiencing homelessness.
For the physical canvassing and count, teams of three to five volunteers meet for a brief orientation and training session at the Honesdale Senior Center before heading out to every corner of the county.
The volunteers provide care packages containing toiletries and other necessities, including information about where to get help, if they want it. The teams also collect some basic information the county needs to provide to funders when seeking homeless assistance dollars.
Many of the individuals and families encountered during the annual count are already known to authorities, but there are often new faces and new opportunities to help and re-engage people.
In 2017 and 2018, Wayne County secured nearly half a million dollars in Federal Housing & Urban Development (HUD) funding. In that time, 217 individuals experiencing homelessness received assistance from these programs, including families with children.
To assist with homelessness, Wayne County Human Services can now offer emergency use apartments, transitional housing for youth, general transitional housing (along with money to get out), rapid rehousing to end homelessness, homeless prevention dollars, family unification programming, and behavioral health-specific units.
Thanks to the grants and other efforts, the county now has many more resources, but officials still need to complete the PIT as one of the requirements to continue this much needed assistance.
Most homeless programming in the county must be accessed via a Coordinated Entry System. To access the system, the person in housing crisis should call 211, Monday through Friday from 9 am-4 pm, to be prioritized for the programming most appropriate for their level of care. A live person can be reached 24/7, but the full assessment process is limited to those hours.