HONESDALE (Jan. 23, 2019) – The Wayne County Local Housing Options Team (LHOT) fields a cadre of volunteers this evening 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.Teams of three to five volunteers meet for a brief orientation and training session at the Honesdale Senior Center before heading out to the very corners of the county -- road conditions permitting this year.
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 of help and re-engage people.
In the past two years, Wayne County has secured nearly half a million dollars in Federal Housing & Urban Development (HUD). In that time, 217 individuals experiencing homelessness have been assisted with 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 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.
READY FOR THE COUNT
Wayne County Housing Coordinator Helen Kelly briefs the approximately 30 volunteers preparing to head out for the Point in Time homeless count on Wednesday evening. Teams of three to five people visit area often frequented by those experiencing homeless and offer warm blankets, toiletries and other essentials, seen in the background, as well as information about how and where to get assistance with homeless issues. The annual count helps support the county's applications for grant funding to deal with the problem.