Saturday, May 18, 2024

Chelan County to conduct annual homeless survey on Jan. 25


WENATCHEE – Chelan County and community partners will conduct the annual Homeless Point in Time Count from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, at Lighthouse Christian Ministries in Wenatchee, 410 Columbia St.


The Department of Housing and Urban Development and Washington State Commerce task communities annually with administering a survey to the unhoused population. The information gathered from people who are experiencing homelessness on the day of the event is used to demonstrate the need for homeless housing services in the community and across the nation, explained Amber Hallberg, Chelan County housing program coordinator and a coordinator of the outreach event.


“Not only is it important at a national level to know what the need is, but it also helps local policymakers make better informed decisions on what direction the community needs to move in with affordable housing,” Hallberg said. “Doing this event each year can likely give us an indication of where we are headed as a community.”


Surveys conducted by outreach teams aim to collect information on individual’s living situations, including how long someone has been without a permanent home, where they sleep, where they are from and whether or not they had been denied access to a shelter or would go to a shelter if available. Demographic questions are also asked, including age, race, gender, veteran status, the number of children under 18 in the household and if they were fleeing domestic violence.


In addition to the centralized event at Lighthouse Christian Ministries in Wenatchee, staff from various nonprofits who work with the unhoused population will be going out throughout Chelan and Douglas counties to speak to people on the street and provide them resources. Chelan Valley HOPE in Chelan will cover the Chelan Valley and Northern Douglas County and Upper Valley MEND in Leavenworth will cover the Cascade School District service area and Cashmere. Upper Valley MEND and Chelan Valley HOPE will also have a centralized site for people in their respective locations to be interviewed and get connected to services.


At this event in 2023, 121 people were interviewed. Of those interviewed, 105 people were unsheltered, meaning they were living outdoors, in a vehicle or RV, in an abandoned building or in a tent or other outdoor area not meant for habitation. In addition, 368 people were recorded staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs or in a hotel through an emergency hotel/motel voucher program.


The local event also allows housing services providers and other service-based non-profits an opportunity to communicate directly with people in need of their services while providing resources, including backpacks, gloves, socks, hand warmers, food and more, to people in need who participate in the survey. The backpacks full of supplies are being provided by Community Action Council, in partnership with Chelan County.


The Columbia Valley Community Health Mobile Clinic will be on site at Lighthouse Christian Ministries to provide access to medical professionals for those needing medical, mental health and substance use disorder services.


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