County looking for homeless count volunteers | News – Sonoma West

Sonoma County’s annual point-in-time homeless count is looking for volunteers. The count will take place on Jan. 25 and needs around 100 volunteers to help count Sonoma County’s homeless population.

The homeless count helps ensure that the county receives homelessness assistance funds (approximately $3.4 million) from the Department of Housing and Urban Design. In order to receive the money, however, recipients like the county need to conduct a point-in-time census.

There are two different volunteer roles looking to be filled, field team counter and deployment center team member. Team counters work with homeless guides and drive or walk over assigned routes to count the homeless. There are 90 volunteers needed for this role, and those who volunteer should be able to walk two miles and be comfortable being in the field. Deployment center team members, of which there are 10 volunteers needed, work at deployment centers to send out team counters.

Participating volunteers will be sent out from one of five locations around the county including Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Petaluma and Guerneville. Volunteers are expected to be able to walk approximately 2-3 miles and are expected to have a car and a mobile phone.

According to a statement from the Sonoma County Community Development Commission, “In all previous counts since 2009, county employees made up a significant portion of the volunteer base that teamed-up with paid homeless individuals, or recently homeless individuals, to canvass the entire county. Volunteers with automobiles, flashlights and cell phones are especially in high demand.”

According to the 2018 point-in-time count, the county’s homeless population increased by six percent last year to a total of 2,996 people, causing the county board of supervisors to declare the county in a “homeless state of emergency.”

This year’s count is taking place a month earlier than last year, on Jan. 25, from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. Those interested in volunteering to help with the count can sign up at Volunteers are also being asked to attend a one-hour training session prior to Jan. 25, on either Jan. 16 or 17. Regional training information is available on the SurveyMonkey form.

— Zoë Strickland