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Homeless Advocates call for volunteers in the Utah Homeless Point In Time Count
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Volunteers needed for Utah Homeless Point In Time Count

(Cleanup of a homeless camp, 2018. Credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE COUNTY – Homeless advocates all across Utah say they need a lot of help in figuring out how many homeless people call this state home.  They’re asking for volunteers to come forward for their Utah Homeless Point In Time Count.

This count happens every year, and it has a major impact on how much funding state and local governments will get for homeless services.  Every state is required to report their numbers to the federal government.

“All of this, combined, will help inform policy on a national and local level, as well as funding decisions both federally and here, locally, as well,” according to Salt Lake County Director of Programs and Partnerships Katherine Fife.

There are two questions volunteers will be trying to answer through this yearly count.

Fife says, “How many people are experiencing homelessness, and how many people are sleeping on the streets?”

It will be relatively easy to find out how many people are staying in homeless shelters across Utah, but the second question may be more difficult to answer.  Fife says it can be very tricky to find individuals living on their own since homeless camps tend to move frequently.  Also, some unsheltered people don’t want to be approached.  This year, Fife says they’re using census track data to find where homeless people may be staying.

“We’re identifying where the populations are.  We’re using data where outreach teams are encountering those who are unsheltered,” she says.

The count is scheduled for the 23rd through the 25th of this month.  Fife says they’ll provide training for anyone who wants to help.

She says, “These are some areas where encounters have been made, and these are where we think we need to focus our efforts.”

People can volunteer by logging on to endutahhomelessness.org.