Once homeless himself, volunteer assists in annual count of homeless in county

EVERETT — Alan Honcoop knew exactly where to look. On a cold, foggy morning, he joined other volunteers Thursday talking with people and gathering information for Snohomish County’s annual Point in Time homeless count.

Honcoop stopped at a few of his old haunts.

He found homeless men to talk with on a corner near the Salvation Army on Everett’s Rucker Avenue. Before doors opened at the Everett Public Library, people outside shared details of lives on the street. With another homeless count volunteer, Terry Reeser, Honcoop drove to the Everett Gospel Mission Men’s Shelter on Smith Avenue. He also visited the McDonald’s on Everett Avenue.

Honcoop, 47, knew where to look because he’s been there — homeless. He knows where people without homes go to find a bathroom, a cup of coffee and a place to sleep.

“I’ve been counted before,” the Everett man said.

He now has shelter and a fresh start through the Salvation Army’s Transition from Chronic Homelessness program. It hasn’t been long since Honcoop walked in the shoes of those he surveyed Tuesday.

“I’ve been sober for five months,” said Honcoop, who stays in a Housing Hope facility and attends 12-step meetings to battle alcoholism.

He remembers camping under the Broadway bridge downtown. He spent days drinking and hiding in bushes. “I don’t ever want to drink again,” he said. “It’s more pain than pleasure.”

On Tuesday, he was among other volunteers, human services officials and county workers helping with the count. Along with Everett, counters gathered and fanned out to find the homeless in eastern Snohomish County, and in north and south county.

Kristen Cane, a policy analyst with the Housing Authority of Snohomish County, said the annual count, now in its sixth year, is needed for local agencies to apply for state and federal funds to prevent and alleviate homelessness. Cane said a total of Thursday’s count is expected to be available by Friday afternoon.

In the 2010 count, according to Snohomish County figures, 2,362 people were identified as being homeless. That did not include another 115 incarcerated people with no identified residence upon release. There were also 854 homeless children under age 18 in the 2010 count.

“When people ask for funding, they have these numbers,” said Angel Johnson, who manages the Salvation Army’s chronic homelessness program.

Some people on the street Tuesday were willing to be counted but did not want to be identified. The Point in Time form asks for initials, not full names.

A bearded 53-year-old, who smelled strongly of alcohol, said he has been homeless since the early 1990s when his wife left him and took their children. When Honcoop talked with him about the Salvation Army program, his reply was “I ain’t doing it.”

Robert Franklin, 39, said his past is littered with divorce, prison time and drug and alcohol abuse. “I’m tired,” he said, adding that he sleeps mostly “under buildings.”

Bill Pascoe, 57, once lived in the woods, Johnson said. Like Honcoop, he now lives in a Housing Hope facility. Johnson said that for three years Pascoe has followed the Salvation Army’s path to a better life. “For my program, they have to be willing to change,” she said. Pascoe, too, was out gathering information Thursday.

Outside the Everett Gospel Mission Men’s Shelter, 37-year-old Jonas Wilkes stood on the street and was counted. He said he lost the roof over his head when a five-year relationship ended.

“I stay at the mission,” Wilkes said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Inclusion super important to Monroe High senior

Sarah Reeves worked to make homecoming more representative of the student population.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Fugitive convict, missing more than a year, surrenders

Charles Coggins, 60, turned himself in Monday. He could now spend up to 30 days behind bars.

Former homeless camp needs needles and garbage cleaned up

The Hand Up Project will lead a volunteer effort this weekend on wooded land south of Everett.

County Council postpones vote on conservation programs

A decision on funding agricultural and water-quality programs will come after the budget process.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Slain boy’s uncle charged with his murder

Andrew Henckel allegedly told sheriff’s detectives he drowned Dayvid Pakko, 6.

Most Read