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News Blog

Volunteers Needed to Survey SLC's Homeless

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2013-01-26 -

This week, take part in a census of need. Join 100k Home SLC in eradicating homelessness in Utah by assisting with a survey of the population of down-and-out Utahns living on the streets, to help aid the federal government in awarding funding for services and housing grant money.

Every year, the federal government requires local homeless-service providers to do a survey of homeless populations, to help the feds make decisions on the allocation of grant money to assist aid housing and program services for the country’s most vulnerable populations. This year, Utah’s various homeless-services providers are getting help from 100k Homes, a national organization looking to bridge the gap between the streets and shelter for homeless citizens in helping to organize a major volunteer survey effort for the annual homeless population count.

Ally Ainscough, director of chronic homeless services and housing at the Salt lake City Road Home shelter, says the usual point-in-time survey is adequate, but hopes the new volunteer effort can broaden their count of individuals in need.

“The yearly point-in-time count does a pretty good job of taking a snapshot of what homelessness looks like in our community one day of the year, but who's to say we’re not counting people staying temporarily in a hotel because maybe they used some social-security money for a brief period, and in that were not counted and once it's over they go back to being homeless?” Ainscough asks.

That’s why 100k Homes SLC is looking for roughly 150 volunteers who will be work in small groups, led by homeless outreach professionals, to find the homeless where they’re at between Jan. 30 and Feb. 2. Volunteers will be needed to interview homeless individuals and collect information about their medical and employment histories and better understand who is in most need of housing. Volunteers will also be needed to do office work entering data about homeless individuals that field volunteers bring back.

Housing and help for the homeless can be a daunting challenge, but the first step to saving lives is recognizing the need, Ainscough says. “Ultimately, this is about preventing the chronically homeless and medically vulnerable from dying on the street. Every year, we have up to 50 people die and that’s preventable,” Ainscough says. “Our community has the resources to really end chronic homelessness and ease some of the suffering that we see on a daily basis.”

For interested volunteers, a mandatory orientation will be held at the Salt Lake City Road Home Shelter, 210 S. Rio Grande Street, Jan. 30, 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m. To register for available shifts, visit the sign up page here.

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