WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The annual day to count the homeless in our area is back and Hurricane Florence and the cold weather are expected to play a role this year.
The point-in-time count (PIT) is the number of homeless people accounted for in a 24-hour period in both sheltered and unsheltered populations. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required communities receiving federal funds from a grant to count all of the homeless people during the last week of January.
The Cape Fear Council of Governments' Tri-County Homeless Interagency Council -- the Cape Fear area’s HUD approved Continuum of Care (CoC) -- will conduct the PIT Wednesday, Jan. 30. That includes New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties. Volunteers from all three counties will go out and survey the homeless by asking questions to help gather data to send back to the HUD. The PIT count will start at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and last until the same time Thursday morning.
Maegan Zielinkski, the CoC director, says this event is monumental for not just the homeless, but the entire community.
“This event is so important because we take the data from this 24-hour period and we use it in all of our grants this year”says Maegan “We always refer back to our point-in-time numbers and report submissions and also we can bring it our community leaders and say ‘Yes, this is our data’ so we can do a lot with it which is why it’s so important.”
Maegan says she expects an increase in this year’s PIT numbers because of Hurricane Florence.
“We’re still seeing numbers increase even after five months and it’s so interesting to me because I’ve never really gone through a big storm like this" Maegan tells me. “The big consequences come after [the storm] and what I’m finding is that even after five months, yes, we’re still seeing lots of people being evicted from apartment complexes. People still can’t go back into their actual homes.”
The cold weather is also playing a factor in the count. With temperatures in the low 30′s and 20′s there is a greater need to get more people off the streets. Maegan says the weather is eye-opening for those out on the streets counting and surveying.
“I mean we’re cold, but the people who are staying outside are also very cold too" says Maegan. “So, we just need to get through it and provide resources while we’re out there with individuals and say ‘hey you can go here for a shelter’ or ‘go here for a warm meal’ or something. We want to try to provide resources for those individuals who are staying outside."
Some of the events and resources the CoC and local organizations are offering for the homeless individuals during the PIT in Wilmington:
- Breakfast on the Riverwalk in downtown Wilmington starting at 8 a.m. Wednesday
- Breakfast and lunch at the Good Shepherd Center from 7 a.m. until 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. until noon. Photo ID is required.
- Emergency shelter services at The Anchor Church and St. Andrew’s Covenant Presbyterian Church
Good Shepherd Center also donated over a hundred bags full of items that may include toothbrushes, snacks, etc. for the volunteers to hand out while conducting the survey,
Zielinkski says she hopes to get more community members involved in the PIT count next year to not only bring the community together, but to raise more awareness about homelessness in our community.
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