RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – On Wednesday night, the Raleigh Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness conducted its annual Point in Time Count, which is a census of who and how many people are homeless on a given night.
The partnership’s Chief Strategy Officer Jenn Von Egidy said about 12 teams go across Wake County to count the number of homeless people and hand out surveys asking for demographics. The crews also gave out backpacks with toiletries, hand and foot warmers, and information about services.
“The point in time count is a snapshot, right, of who is actually experiencing homelessness on one single night. But because we always do it the last week of January, we can track trends year-over-year to see if there’s a change,” Von Egidy said.
“You know, are we seeing more families? Are we seeing more singles? Are we seeing more Black people versus white people? So we can start seeing what groups are becoming homeless at what rate, and we can also track disparities, as well.”
Von Egidy said the count is important because it’s used, along with annual data, to determine how much money the area could receive for homeless services. She said the information also helps determine what services are needed.
“This directly impacts our community and how much money we can potentially get in, so that we can work to get people back into housing,” Von Egidy said.
CBS 17 followed a crew to three locations in Raleigh. The crew did not find any homeless people at those locations. Team leader Arlene Smith, with WakeMed’s Homeless Engagement Assistance & Resource Team (HEART), said since it was cold, people could be at cold weather emergency shelters.
Smith said it’s not just about getting an accurate number of homeless people, but also getting contact information to follow up with people who want services.
“We all have a story and sometimes things happen in life, but our job is to encourage and get them to get back on their feet, walk with them until they do,” Smith said.
Smith said the hardest part about the outreach is getting people to talk.
“They are a shy group of people, but they also recognize when people are trying to help them, and it’s not easy sometimes,” Smith said. “I always look at it like what would I do? What would I say? What would I want someone to say to me if I find myself in a situation like this?”
Von Egidy said more than 100 people were at the White Flag emergency weather shelters Wednesday night.
According to the partnership, last year’s count was just over 900 people, but this year’s is expected to be higher. The count is expected to be released in the spring. Crews will continue counting Thursday morning.