Agencies prepare for annual homeless count January 23, 2019

 

McHenry County homeless service providers will complete an annual Point-In-Time (PIT) count Wednesday, Jan. 23 to help track the number and types of homeless residents in the county.

The McHenry County Continuum of Care to End Homelessness, which is made up of about 40 agencies whose programs serve homeless and low income populations, is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and relies on volunteers from member agencies to complete the count once a year in January.

“The PIT count essentially gives a snapshot of what McHenry County’s homeless population looks like on one given day,” said Sam Tenuto, co-CEO at Pioneer Center for Human Services and the chair of the PIT count committee. “We use our current tracking methods and database systems to get most of the count, but an important part of this day involves searching the streets seeking homeless individuals who have not entered emergency shelters for the night.”

By administering the PIT count and meeting other obligations, the CoC ensures that the county remains eligible for HUD funding for locally-based homeless programs. Last year, about $1.1 million dollars were distributed to seven providers in McHenry County who offer homeless-related services, including Pioneer Center, Home of the Sparrow, Thresholds, TLS Veterans, Prairie State Legal Services, McHenry County and Turning Point. Last year’s PIT count showed the county had 288 homeless residents on the night of the count.

Jena Hencin, a community development specialist for McHenry County, said more comprehensive homeless data is tracked throughout the year in a shared database.

“It provides us a good baseline for our program planning, and allows the CoC to have a more intelligent conversation about how to address homelessness in McHenry County,” she said of the data.

And that’s exactly the CoC’s purpose. According to HUD, CoC’s were created to “organize and deliver housing and services to meet the specific needs of people who are homeless as they move to stable housing and maximize self-sufficiency.”

The CoC meets as a whole regularly, usually the third Thursday of each month. There are several committees in place to evaluate specific focus areas the CoC hopes to address, from housing and services to community awareness.

“It’s both a sad and complex problem,” said Kathrine Violett, president of the CoC. “Collaboration is the key, and having committed professionals and interested parties under one roof to problem solve and plan will be an ongoing priority.”

To volunteer with the PIT count, or to learn more about ways to get involved with the CoC, contact Sam Tenuto at stenuto@pioneercenter.org.