Tonight is an important night for homeless people and their advocates across the state of Idaho.
Idaho’s 15th annual Point-In-Time (PIT) count will be conducted tonight – Wednesday, Jan. 23, -- by the Balance of State Continuum of Care (CoC) and coordinated by Idaho Housing and Finance Association (IHFA).
“The primary goal of the PIT count is to provide a one-night snapshot of the number of homeless persons in Idaho,” explained Steve Thomas, executive director of Family Promise in the Lewis Clark Valley. Thomas is on the PIT committee and spoke at a Human Needs Council meeting in Grangeville Jan. 17.
Thomas explained for this count, homeless persons are defined as those who are living on the streets, residing in places not meant for habitation (storage facilities, abandoned houses, places without water and/or electricity) or those who are currently residing in emergency shelters or homeless transitional housing projects.
HUD’s definition of homelessness for the PIT count does not include persons who may be staying with friends or relatives, in a hotel/motel, in a treatment facility, in jail, or in rapid re-housing or permanent housing project for formerly homeless persons.
Across the state, the surveys will be taken from tonight, Jan. 23, through the 29 – but all with the question of where the homeless person slept on Jan. 23. The survey has several questions that will be filled out by a third-party volunteer; however, the questions that make the survey valid will include where the person slept, their birthdate and at least part of their first and last names.
“We need to make sure the surveys are legitimate while still providing dignity, privacy and respect for the people who are affected,” Thomas explained.
Anyone who is homeless and takes the required survey in Idaho County will receive a $5 Subway gift card.
“It’s a small incentive,” explained Thomas, who offers gas and deli cards in other areas. In larger cities he works in, such as Lewiston and Moscow, meal night events are held to bring people in to take the surveys.
Thomas explained the PIT not only helps with a homeless count, but also helps with funding associated with the homeless. This is not only for housing, but also for areas of funding and assistance that may be due to or are pre-cursors to homelessness.
Anyone who is homeless who would like to take the survey locally can call Community Action Partnership in Grangeville at 208-983-0437, or Idaho Department of Health and Welfare at 208-983-2522.