[Hpn] How many homeless?Thats why we seek volunteers to help out in an annual one-day count

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 20 Jan 2008 05:17:36 -0500


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http://heraldnet.com/article/20080120/NEWS01/119125939

Sunday, January 20, 2008

How many homeless? Help needed to find out

By Sharon Salyer, Herald Writer

EVERETT -- Unlike urban areas where the homeless often congregate in =
city parks, homeless adults and families in Snohomish County are less =
visible and harder to identify, social service agencies say.

That's why they're asking for volunteers to help out in an annual =
one-day count of the homeless on Thursday.

"It's not a scientific census," said Dana Libby, who helps lead the =
Salvation Army chapter in Snohomish County. "I see it first and foremost =
as a way for us to identify the trends in homelessness."

Volunteers don't just count the homeless, they also survey to find out =
what besides housing are their biggest needs, he said.

Last year, food and dental care were ranked just behind affordable =
housing and a safe place to stay as the top needs, he said.

Many homeless adults report that they're facing multiple problems, he =
said, such as drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness and chronic health =
issues.

Dental care ranks high on the lists of needs, not only because problems =
can cause ongoing infections. If the dental problems are bad enough, =
Libby said, "no one will hire them."

Homeless survey volunteers are able hear firsthand the struggles faced =
by the homeless, he said. "When they start to hear the stories from =
these folks, sometimes I think it hits a little closer to home," Libby =
said.

"You're reminded how tenuous your personal situation is, and how, if a =
couple things had gone just a little differently, you might be living =
under a bridge."

About 200 people volunteered for the one-day survey last year, said Sola =
Plumacher, a human service specialist for Snohomish County. Of the 2,666 =
people who identified themselves as homeless, 800 had children, she =
said.

This year, volunteers will report to one of four nonprofit organizations =
assisting in the one-day count: the Salvation Army in Everett, the YWCA =
in Lynnwood, Housing Hope in Arlington and Take the Next Step in Monroe.

Volunteers receive training before interviewing the homeless, Plumacher =
said. Surveyors go out in groups to look for the homeless. All children =
must be accompanied by an adult. No one younger than 13 can participate.

"I've never had anyone say it was a bad experience," Libby said. "We've =
had moms and dads and sons and daughters going out together."



Reporter Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.



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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://heraldnet.com/article/20080120/NEWS01/119125939">http://he=
raldnet.com/article/20080120/NEWS01/119125939</A></FONT></DIV>
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<DIV>Sunday, January 20, 2008<BR>
<P class=3Dart-headline>How many homeless? Help needed to find out</P>
<P class=3Dart-byline>By <A href=3D"mailto:salyer@heraldnet.com">Sharon =
Salyer</A>,=20
Herald Writer</P>
<P class=3Dart-body>EVERETT -- Unlike urban areas where the homeless =
often=20
congregate in city parks, homeless adults and families in Snohomish =
County are=20
less visible and harder to identify, social service agencies =
say.<BR><BR>That's=20
why they're asking for volunteers to help out in an annual one-day count =
of the=20
homeless on Thursday.<BR><BR>"It's not a scientific census," said Dana =
Libby,=20
who helps lead the Salvation Army chapter in Snohomish County. "I see it =
first=20
and foremost as a way for us to identify the trends in=20
homelessness."<BR><BR>Volunteers don't just count the homeless, they =
also survey=20
to find out what besides housing are their biggest needs, he =
said.<BR><BR>Last=20
year, food and dental care were ranked just behind affordable housing =
and a safe=20
place to stay as the top needs, he said.<BR><BR>Many homeless adults =
report that=20
they're facing multiple problems, he said, such as drug or alcohol =
abuse, mental=20
illness and chronic health issues.<BR><BR>Dental care ranks high on the =
lists of=20
needs, not only because problems can cause ongoing infections. If the =
dental=20
problems are bad enough, Libby said, "no one will hire =
them."<BR><BR>Homeless=20
survey volunteers are able hear firsthand the struggles faced by the =
homeless,=20
he said. "When they start to hear the stories from these folks, =
sometimes I=20
think it hits a little closer to home," Libby said.<BR><BR>"You're =
reminded how=20
tenuous your personal situation is, and how, if a couple things had gone =
just a=20
little differently, you might be living under a bridge."<BR><BR>About =
200 people=20
volunteered for the one-day survey last year, said Sola Plumacher, a =
human=20
service specialist for Snohomish County. Of the 2,666 people who =
identified=20
themselves as homeless, 800 had children, she said.<BR><BR>This year, =
volunteers=20
will report to one of four nonprofit organizations assisting in the =
one-day=20
count: the Salvation Army in Everett, the YWCA in Lynnwood, Housing Hope =
in=20
Arlington and Take the Next Step in Monroe.<BR><BR>Volunteers receive =
training=20
before interviewing the homeless, Plumacher said. Surveyors go out in =
groups to=20
look for the homeless. All children must be accompanied by an adult. No =
one=20
younger than 13 can participate.<BR><BR>"I've never had anyone say it =
was a bad=20
experience," Libby said. "We've had moms and dads and sons and daughters =
going=20
out together."<I><BR><BR><I></I><BR><BR>Reporter Sharon Salyer: =
425-339-3486 or=20
<A=20
href=3D"mailto:salyer@heraldnet.com">salyer@heraldnet.com</A>.</I></FONT>=
</P></DIV>
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