Volunteers needed for Hays County PIT count
Volunteers are currently needed to assist with collecting data for the annual point-in-time (PIT) count regarding the homeless population in Hays County. The count is set to take place on Jan. 27 at the San Marcos Public Library.
“We'd like to refer to it as kind of a snapshot of what homelessness would look like, in a county,” said Nancy Heintz, co-coordinator for the PIT Count.
Along with several area churches and shelters, many local organizations have come together to assist in the count, including the Homeless Coalition, H.O.M.E. Center, the City of San Marcos, the San Marcos Public Library and the San Marcos Police Department.
The yearly count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and allows for the collection of information to gain a better understanding of the issues that cause individuals to become homeless.
“Some of this is for information and for understanding. Some of the, some of it can hopefully lead to additional funding for resources, some that can provide for solutions,” Heintz said. “The survey information is immediately submitted to Texas Homeless Network, and then they compile the data and will generate a report and then that becomes the identifying number of homelessness for Hays County for a year, until the next count in 2023.”
Volunteers helping with the PIT count will go through an hour training session before the count date to get a better understanding of how to approach individuals. One training session was previously held on Jan. 12 but another will take place on Jan. 20.
“It gives them the methodology of the count, helps them understand kind of the big picture and then it even goes specific to showing them how they load the app. We use a mobile app and they can load that on their cell phone or their mobile device,” Heintz said. “So, we show them how to do that, we also give them a sample interview, you know, 'how do you approach people, how you talk to them.'”
Social distancing, masks and other COVID-19 safety measures will be set in place for the day of the PIT count. Volunteers will be asked to participate in a 3-hour shift.
“The 3 hours doesn't have to be a straight 3 hours, you know, they might break it up. But we're just asking people to, if they can give us that kind of time, so it's not, so they have a sense that it's a little more of a commitment, not just like an hour or a 30-minute thing. But we'd like for them to kind of carve out some time to try to help us find and engage with people,” Heintz said. To sign up as a volunteer,
To sign up as a volunteer, email Heintz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up before the final training session on Jan. 20.
The Root Cellar and its coffee shop will provide coffee and a snack for volunteers.
There is still an ongoing search for a group that might provide a boxed breakfast or a boxed lunch that can be handed out at a central location in San Marcos to the unsheltered people that the volunteers engage with on Jan. 27. “This has the value for what it is, and we hope that we can collect some data that will, again, provide help for Hays County,” Heintz said. “This is a solvable issue in regard to once you find, can get resources and some sustainable funding. So that's, we hope this contributes to that, for sure.”