By: Christine Paukstis, Coordinator of Year-Long Volunteers & Addictions Technician
At 10 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25th the District of Columbia conducted its annual census of persons experiencing homelessness. This effort, which occurs in cities across America, is called the Point in Time Count (PIT). Volunteers split into teams to reach out to individuals experiencing homelessness. The goal is to determine as accurate a count as possible of all D.C. residents who are without a place to call home. On the same night, area shelters conduct their own census. You can review the results of last year’s PIT here.
This year, the Christ House year-long volunteers worked as a team to assist with the census. We covered the Adams Morgan neighborhood where Christ House is located.
Melissa, a nurse with the year-long volunteer program, reflected on the experience:
The Point In Time count was an amazing opportunity for us to get out of our comfort zones and meet men and women experiencing homelessness in our own neighborhood. This one night opened our eyes a little wider to the many diverse faces and experiences of this population.
Our job for the evening was to gently engage with folks that were sleeping on the street and ask them to complete a short survey. The survey is important in helping us to understand the needs of individuals experiencing both short-term and chronic homelessness. The information gathered during the count improves the targeting and delivery of services to this vulnerable population. As a “thank you” for completing the survey, participants were given gift cards to local fast food restaurants.
Equally as important, we assessed the welfare of folks that we encountered. We carried contact information with us in case of medical or mental health crisis and passed out resource sheets. The resource sheets included information on where individuals could find help with meals, shelter, social services, and medical or mental health care.
This night is an important one for the District and its members who would like to see a better response to the crisis of homelessness in our city. The PIT relies heavily on volunteers and we’d love for you to join us next year! In December, you can register for the 2018 PIT here.