Annual Point-In-Time Count slated Jan. 23 to 27
The annual Point-In-Time Count will take place later this month on the Big Island with volunteers and advocates working to provide a snapshot of all those experiencing homelessness in the community.
The count, which will be conducted Jan. 23 to 27, provides a snapshot of all those experiencing homelessness in shelters, streets, beaches, tents, cars, or other places not meant for human habitation. The data obtained is vital for receiving federal funding, as well as monies from state, local and private sources.
The count is how standardized data is collected across the United States. It provides insight into how homelessness fluctuates from year to year across the nation.
Bridging the Gap, the neighbor islands continuum of Care for homeless services, is in need of volunteers for this year’s count, particularly in West Hawaii. Shifts are generally three to five hours long and begin around 5 a.m. or 4:30 to 5 p.m., although there are some shifts during the day as well.
“No experience is needed. This is a rare opportunity for County Council Members and Civic Group Members to go into the field with an experienced outreach worker and get a glimpse of homelessness on our island. We cannot complete the count without volunteers, and we hope you join us,” according to Bridging the Gap.
Training sessions will be offered via Zoom from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, Jan. 9, as well as from 1 to 3 p.m. on Jan. 13. The sessions are required and provide safety tips and required information about accurate data collection. To register, contact Carrie Ho’opi’i at (808) 217-6183 or Joycelyn Cabal at (808) 217-2830.
The 2022 Point-in-Time Count indicated unsheltered homelessness increased 6% (33 people) to 554 total people when compared to 521 in 2020 on the Big Island. There was no count in 2021 due to the pandemic. Unsheltered homelessness among individuals increased to 496 or 14% (60 people) compared to 436 in 2020.
The total number of homeless families was 66, two fewer than 2020. There were 48 sheltered families identified, up 50 percent compared to 2021. In 2021, family shelter capacity was reduced to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
Of the unsheltered homeless in 2022, 240 individuals were identified as chronic individuals, meaning an individual with a disability who has been continuously homeless for one year or more or has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years where the combined length of time homeless in those occasions is at least 12 months. 250 individuals identified as having serious mental illness and 189 said the were chronic substance users. These numbers represent a five year high.
Regina Weller, a one woman Homeless advocate with 808 Homeless Task Force has provided transportation back to the mainland, vehicles and job placement for homeless in Kona. She doubts the validity of the numbers that are reported.
She said PIT is necessary however not a “cattle count”.
“These are real people whether one sympathizes or not with their plight. The yearly count could be used more effectively and efficiently, like to motivate them, where possible, back to the mainstream,” she said. “What would you consider right now in this time of your life. I ask them. Are you in misery? do you want a roof over your head, to see your family again , to get a job or just to eat a meal every day? Do you want rehab?”
Based on her encounters, she tries to provide services for those who want them.
She asks the homeless she encounters to talk to her.
“It’s just you and me. From what I visually see during outreach, I think the reported PIT count is higher,” she said, noting she has not participated in the count.
“They are coming in through the airport every day, but find out right away that homeless in Hawaii is not paradise,” she said.
A complete breakdown of the 2022 PIT count can be found at https://hhdw.org/2022-point-in-time-count/
Results of the 2023 PIT will be released in June.