A regional group is seeking volunteers to count homeless residents in Osceola County as part of an annual event known as the Point in Time (PIT) count.
The one-day effort is led by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to estimate the number of Americans without safe, stable housing who are living on the streets or in temporary shelters.
This year’s PIT count in Osceola County will be Jan. 23.
It’s a national effort, but locally, the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida organizes the effort.
According to the Homeless Services Network’s Deputy Director Brian Postlewait, it’s important to get many volunteers to make sure the count is as accurate as possible.
“The more people we have on the street, the better our chances are of meeting people and getting a better picture of how many homeless individuals live in our community,” Postlewait said.
PIT volunteers are broken into teams that walk around an assigned area to identify and converse with as many homeless individuals as possible. Each area in the county is given a team leader who divides that neighborhood into several areas. Two or three volunteers then search the area, armed with census surveys, pens, information on emergency services, gift bags, water and two law enforcement escorts.
HUD requires counts of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people in communities that receive federal funding from the Continuum of Care (CoC) and Emergency Solutions Grant Programs. HUD requires all counts to take place the last week of January annually.
While the PIT count helps counties target resources, it doesn’t determine funding. The purpose of the count is to estimate the number of those in need of homeless housing and supportive services.
Data from the latest PIT count was released in May and identified 226 homeless individuals in Osceola County. Veterans comprised 18 percent of the homeless population, while families made up another 32 percent. Most homeless individuals (64.6 percent) were found in emergency shelters.
All PIT volunteers must be at least 18 years old and participate in a training session prior to Jan. 23. More information about training sessions will be provided after registration, according to Postlewait.
To register as a PIT count volunteer, visit pitvolunteer.com.