Volunteers needed for homeless count

An annual Point-in-Time count will take place this week to help community organizations judge the number of area homeless.

The once-a-year count determines about how many homeless individuals and families live in our community. It helps area homeless service providers receive regional, state and federal funding to financially assist those struggling to obtain or maintain housing.

Every week, the Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter has received more than 100 requests for assistance, Program Administrator Kerry Keihn stated in a news release. Those who contact the alliance are either homeless or about to lose their housing in Shenandoah County and surrounding areas. She said there are more requests for assistance than the alliance can provide.

The Point-in-Time count is a national effort required by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It’s held during the last 10 days of January and uses a “snapshot” of homeless persons on a single night to judge a community’s need.

The official 2015 Point-in-Time count will take place on Wednesday.

In Winchester and the counties of Clarke, Frederick, Page, Shenandoah and Warren, the count is typically conducted at churches and other charities that provide community meals for those in need.

Volunteers briefly interview willing participants to collect demographic information and provide them with a small bag of personal care items.

Area residents can help by hosting Point-in-Time count interviews at church community meals, providing information about homeless communities they know about, donating hygiene items for personal care bags or volunteering as interviewers. For more information, call Laura Wine at 540-908-0415.