Community volunteers needed for survey of homeless population

HANCOCK — A local chapter of the Continuum of Care (COC) national organization is seeking volunteers to assist in measuring the scale of homelessness in the United States, according to Brian Foreman of the Child and Family Services of the Upper Peninsula.

Every January, more than 400 COCs covering 3,000 cities and counties across the United States organize tens of thousands of volunteers in a national effort to measure the scale of homelessness in the nation.

The count measures the number of homeless people in shelters, as well as on the streets, at a single point in time.

The point-in-time (PIT) count for Houghton, Baraga and Keweenaw counties will be conducted from 12 a.m to 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Foreman said.

“This happens twice a year, but this year there has been an emphasis on the hidden homeless,” Foreman said. “This includes people sleeping in their cars, teenagers kicked out of their own homes and staying with friends, and those who are otherwise overlooked.”

Achieving an accurate count is essential for securing funding and support for agencies, a release from the Child and Family Services states.

Locally, the survey will involve local agencies and law enforcement departments.

“Defining the extent of rural homelessness presents a significant challenge in that there are no formal homeless shelters in our three-county area,” the release states.

“Couch surfing” is the most common form of homelessness in the area. In those cases, the homeless person or family may not necessarily be connected with an agency. Those are the cases where help is needed.

“We’ll still be collecting data from local agencies,” Foreman said. “But this time we’ll be contacting law enforcement agencies as well as women’s homeless shelters, and the DHS.”

Anyone interested in volunteering to assist on Wednesday can contact Brian Foreman at 906-370-8444 or by email at bforeman@cfup.org.

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