RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — On Wednesday night, the Raleigh Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness conducted its annual One-Time Count, which is a census of who and how many people are homeless on any given night.
The partnership’s chief strategist, Jenn Von Egidy, said about 12 teams traveled around Wake County to count the number of homeless people and distribute surveys asking for demographic data. Crews also handed out backpacks with toiletries, hand and foot warmers and service information.
“The point-in-time count is a snapshot, on the right, of who is actually experiencing homelessness in a single night. But as we always do the last week of January, we can follow trends year over year to see if there is any change,” Von Egidy said.
“You know, do we see more families? Do we see more singles? Do we see more blacks than whites? So we can start to see which groups are becoming homeless at what rate, and we can also track the disparities.
Von Egidy said the tally is important because it is used, along with annual data, to determine how much money the region could receive for homeless services. She said the information also helps determine what services are needed.
“It has a direct impact on our community and the amount of money we can potentially get, so we can work to get people back into housing,” Von Egidy said.
CBS 17 followed a crew to three locations in Raleigh. The crew did not find any homeless people at these locations. Team leader Arlene Smith, of WakeMed’s Homeless Engagement Assistance and Resource Team (HEART), said that because it was cold people could be in cold weather emergency shelters.
Smith said it’s not just about getting an accurate number of homeless people, but also getting contact information to track people who want services.
“We all have a story and sometimes things happen in life, but our job is to encourage them and get them back on their feet, to walk with them until they do,” Smith said. .
Smith said the hardest part of raising awareness is getting people talking.
“They’re a shy bunch of people, but they also recognize when people are trying to help them, and that’s not easy sometimes,” Smith said. “I always look at it like what would I do? What would I say? What would I want someone to tell me if I find myself in a situation like this? »
Von Egidy said more than 100 people were in the White Flag emergency weather shelters Wednesday night.
According to the partnership, last year’s tally was just over 900, but this year’s is expected to be higher. The count should be published in the spring. Crews will continue to count Thursday morning.