Bridge to Home is seeking 100 volunteers in an effort to help get an accurate count of the homeless population in the Santa Clarita Valley, said Tim Davis, executive director of Bridge to Home, which runs the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter.
From 7-10 p.m. next Thursday, shelter officials are asking for volunteers over the age of 18 to help conduct a biannual count.
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"Every year, (county services for the homeless are competing for dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on a national level," David said. "One of the things HUD needs is an accurate count. For us, it's very helpful for knowing the resources we need we ask for funding and for grants."
The knowledge is invaluable to those who are seeking to serve this group, as it will allow nonprofit and public agencies to make better decisions about how resources to end homelessness in our community can best be used, he said.
Davis said his hope was the if 70-80 volunteers can turn out, it should help provide more accurate, detailed information in regard to how many homeless individuals are in the Santa Clarita Valley.
"It's a very safe process, we don't really engage the homeless," he said. The new method will allow officials and volunteers to gather information in a safe manner.
While in the past an SCV-wide count had been the goal, by hitting all of the census tracts, provided enough volunteers come out, officials will have a greater specificity on the count than ever before.
"(In the past), you couldn't come down here and say, 'How many (homeless) people are in Santa Clarita?' How many are in Castaic?' You didn't have that granularity," he said.
The group is assembling at 7 p.m. at the City of Santa Clarita Activities Center, 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway. A short training will precede the effort.
The training will describe how to count. This will not include engaging directly with homeless individuals or families other than to estimate how many people are sleeping in the open in the assigned neighborhood, according to a Bridge to Home news release .
After gathering at the city of Santa Clarita's Activities Center, volunteers will disperse and follow a few basic steps:
Volunteers will not be making direct contact with homeless people, but will do a visual identification, according to officials. This will be covered in detail during the training.
Teams of two to four volunteers will be assigned an area of the community to count and will be supplied with maps, flashlights (officials are asked to bring their own), and a T-shirt that self-identifies volunteers.
Once the team has finished the count, all team members are aksed to return to the deployment center and check back in.
Officials hope that with enough volunteers, the process can be wrapped up by 11 p.m. that same evening.
Bridge to Home officials are welcoming local residents to form their own team and joining the effort. To register or for further information, contact Shari Fleischman at firstname.lastname@example.org .