Your part in aiding homeless

The name itself, Point in Time, tells you something.

This is a snapshot, an attempt to count a moving, difficult-to-quantify population on a single night in January.

So, while there have been successes in connecting those in Snohomish County’s homeless community with shelter and services, and the recent Point in Time surveys have shown a downward trend in the number of homeless counted on that one night — from 2,387 in 2012 to 948 this year — those who serve the adults and youths in the homeless community are wary of giving the numbers too much weight, for fear that we might let up on our efforts.

The numbers, said Cassie Franklin, chief executive of Cocoon House, which provides shelter and other services for homeless and at-risk youths, are useful for tracking trends and necessary in seeking grants and other funding, but they don’t relate the full picture of the need in the community.

“Our shelter beds are still full, so there’s still a big problem,” Franklin said.

It’s a sentiment shared by Sylvia Anderson, chief executive of the Everett Gospel Mission. As reported Monday by Herald Writer Noah Haglund, Anderson said her own experience, her observations of the community, also brings some doubt as to how well the count gives a full picture.

Efforts to address homelessness and the often related problems of mental illness and addiction, already are being made, with more to follow. The Everett Community Streets Initiative, which released its report in November, has had subcommittees working on how to implement a long list of recommendations, with reports expected next month. Among the recommendations being considered are a jail transition facility that would provide temporary shelter for those released from jail; increased access of drop-in centers to connect the homeless with services; and a housing levy, like those used in Seattle and Bellingham, that would build more affordable housing.

But along with those short- and long-term efforts, there are more immediate needs that are best satisfied by donations from the community.

Cocoon House, as reported Saturday by Herald Writer Chris Winters, learned late last year that the federal government was not renewing a $200,000 grant that provided half of the funding for its Street Outreach Program, which works to connect youths with Cocoon House programs and encourage them to come off the street. Cocoon House is shifting money to make up for the loss and is seeking other funding sources.

But it, as does the Everett Gospel Mission, also depends on contributions from the community. The good news for Cocoon House is that an anonymous community leader, following the loss of the federal grant, has offered to match donations from the public, 2 to 1, meaning a $100 donation brings $300 to Cocoon House. But that offer expires at the end of the month, Saturday.

To donate to Cocoon House, go to https://secure.qgiv.com/for/cocoonhouse.

To donate to the Everett Gospel Mission, go to www.egmission.org/giving-to-the-mission/.

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