The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in changes to the annual Point in Time (PIT) Count. Usually a one-day snapshot of the state and extent of homelessness, for 2021, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development is permitting local homeless population advocates, such as the Summit County Continuum of Care (CoC), a week to collect data. The Summit County PIT Count will take place during the week of January 25-29.
The information from the PIT Count provides a valuable look at homelessness in our region and informs support service providers regarding the priorities to prevent and end homelessness. Organizations that provide overnight shelter will report the number of homeless (sheltered) in their facilities. Community Support Services’ (CSS) homeless outreach staff have been searching the county for long-term or new homeless encampments; individuals residing there are categorized as unsheltered.
The COVID pandemic presents unique challenges to conducting a safe and efficient but accurate count, but using safety basics – decreasing face-to-face interactions, decreasing the number of volunteers involved in the PIT Count, and provide Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) – will allow the 2021 PIT Count to provide valuable information.
According to Tim Edgar, CSS Residential Manager, “In 2020, the PIT count showed us there were approximately 459 sheltered homeless and 128 unsheltered individuals in Summit County. We expect the homeless numbers to increase in this year’s Count. Because it’s been a relatively mild winter so far, more people have been willing and able to sleep in tents. But more than likely, bitterly cold nights are coming, so that’s why CSS has been working with the Peter Maurin Center and other CoC agencies to create additional shelter beds because the pandemic’s social distancing requirements have reduced the number of beds available at local homeless shelters.”
Community Support Services, Inc. is a leader in behavioral healthcare for Summit County and the surrounding region. The agency provides comprehensive, high quality, cost-effective treatment, rehabilitation, advocacy, and support for recovery, primarily to persons most in need, to enhance the quality of their lives.