Volunteers needed for survey of homeless in Snohomish County

EVERETT — Local nonprofits are sending out a call for volunteers to help with the annual Point in Time homeless count, amid heightened awareness about the issue.

The annual survey of the homeless population in Snohomish County comes as Everett city leaders attempt to open up low-barrier housing later this year.

This year’s count is scheduled for Jan. 28, with a half-hour training session before volunteers head into the field. The data they gather helps secure federal and state funding for local programs.

“The best part of the event for me is seeing all of the people come together,” said Becca Lang, a lead family advocate with the YWCA in Everett, who is helping to organize this year’s count. “There’s no funding backing it, so we rely solely on volunteers.”

The idea is to get a snapshot of homelessness in Snohomish County for one day in January, rather than conduct a comprehensive census.

The work is divided among central, east, north and south Snohomish County. Volunteers commit to 3 hours between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Jan. 28. Tasks include interviewing homeless households, advocacy and entering survey data.

The count takes a look at four key populations: families, veterans, the chronically homeless and youth. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sets the parameters.

“While being without a roof over your head is the same for everybody, the reasons might be different,” said Mary Jane Brell Vujovic, director of Snohomish County’s Department of Human Services.

Local efforts to reduce the number of homeless vets and families have been showing success, Brell Vujovic said.

“The information we get through that process for us as a community making the best decisions about how to use scarce resources to meet a pressing community need,” she said.

Last year’s overall tally was 948. That compares to 1,272 in 2014 and 1,996 in 2013.

A year ago, 150 volunteers signed up to help. The YWCA’s Lang said she’d be thrilled to double that number this year.

“If nothing else comes about, it’s about being able to sit and listen to have someone else tell you their story and to respect them as a valuable human being,” Lang said.

“We’re not telling them what they need,” she said. “They’re telling us how they want to be supported.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Volunteer for the Point In Time homeless count

Central Snohomish County: Chelaina Crews, 425-374-6364 or chelainac@ccsww.org

South county: Becca Lang, 425-387-8920 or rlang@ywcaworks.org

North county: Jana Phillips, 425-347-6556 ext. 278 or janaphillips@housinghope.org

East county: Sharon Paskewitz, 425-212-3211 or spaskewitz@voaww.org

For the youth count, contact Elysa Hovard at 425-259-5802 ext. 211, elysa.hovard@cocoonhouse.org.

(Supplies, snacks and drinks are provided.)

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