Volunteers needed for Pierce County’s annual homeless survey

Organizations that help the homeless are seeking volunteers to gather census data of people who are homeless or are on the verge of it in Pierce County. The annual survey, which is in its sixteenth year, is scheduled for Thurs., Jan. 26 through Fri., Jan. 27. The Pierce County Department of Community Connections and the Tacoma-Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness seek more than 100 volunteers to survey individuals and families at meal sites, day shelters, health clinics and on the streets. The Homeless Network is accepting donations of personal items that will be distributed over the two-day period.

“The Homeless Network relies on the community’s help to make this a successful effort,” said Dana Peterson, chair of the Tacoma-Pierce County Coalition to End Homelessness. “We encourage employees in the public and private sectors to ask fellow workers, friends or community members to volunteer or organize donation drives.”

Volunteers are required to attend one of four scheduled training sessions prior to participation. At the training, representatives from the Homeless Network will explain the reasons for the survey, discuss the process by which data is collected, and provide safety information. The next workshops will be held at the following locations: Puyallup, Tues., Jan. 17, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Puyallup Public Library (South Room), 324 South Meridian; and Tacoma, Weds., Jan. 18, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Tues., Jan. 24, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Community Connections Sound View Location, 3602 Pacific Ave., Conference Room A.

To volunteer or learn more about the 2012 survey, contact Rae Anne Giron at Pierce County Community Connections at (253) 798-6931.

“We saw street homelessness decrease over several years, but that trend is reversing,” said Troy Christensen, Homeless Administrator for Pierce County Community Connections. “This year, the survey is especially important as we try to understand the impact of the continuing economic changes in our communities. Having an accurate sample will assist us in planning and funding.”

Last year, volunteers helped collect data from 2,067 homeless individuals in Pierce County. They identified 823 single, unattached individuals. The survey counted 367 families with 698 children age 18 and under as homeless during the 24-hour census period. A full report can be found online at http://www.co.pierce.wa.us/xml/abtus/ourorg/cc/homeless/2011%20Homeless%20Survey%20Report.pdf .

Donations of personal items can be delivered to Catholic Community Services, Phoenix Housing Network at 7050 S. G St. in Tacoma from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Items most needed include clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, jackets, socks, gloves, hats, scarves, duffle bags, non-perishable food, bottled water, can openers, flashlights/batteries, towels, and toiletries.