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Tempe volunteers set to count people experiencing homelessness Jan. 28

Post Date:01/23/2020 8:30 AM

Tempe volunteers and staff will fan out around the city before dawn Jan. 28 counting people who are experiencing homelessness as part of the regional annual Point-in-Time Homeless Count.

The street count provides a one-night snapshot of the number of men, women and children living in unsheltered situations or on the streets. Information collected enhances Tempe’s understanding about needs in the community and helps determine how resources are allocated.

Coordinated by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the count relies on volunteer teams that include city, town, county and state representatives; community and faith-based organizations; businesses; and private residents. The January 2019 Point-in-Time (PIT) count in Maricopa County found 6,614 people experiencing homelessness, which represented an increase for the sixth straight year.

“These aren’t just numbers, these are 6,614 stories of individuals with 6,614 personal pathways into homelessness,” said Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, chair of the MAG Regional Council. “Our job is to better understand where we can intersect people along these pathways and change the course of homelessness in our region.”

On Jan. 28, Tempe volunteers will work in teams to cover assigned geographic areas citywide, counting people in parks, riverbeds, doorways and elsewhere. Volunteers will also include homeless pets in the count. Information gathered last year found 182 pets on the street, including 10 service animals.

A new question added this year will capture the number of people who became homeless after “aging out” of the foster care system. That information could help the state connect people without traditional family supports to available housing options.

For the first time, the entire annual count will be conducted electronically using a mobile app, following a pilot program conducted during the past two years.

As Tempe volunteers conduct the count, they will distribute supplies such as snacks, hygiene kits and pet food, and hand out information about housing and local services.

Last year, volunteers in Tempe counted 373 people experiencing homelessness, up from 276 the previous year.

The City of Tempe HOPE team leads the city’s PIT effort. The team’s homeless outreach specialists and Tempe police park officers engage with people who are homeless every day to assist them with a wide range of needs, including housing, mental health services, addiction recovery services and more.

In 2019, the HOPE team served 1,207 unduplicated individuals, up from 1,117 the previous year. The team also helped 366 people into housing in 2019, up from 239 the previous year.

On average, a person who engages with the HOPE team about housing will be housed in 35 days.

For more information about Tempe’s homeless-related efforts: tempe.gov/endinghomelessness.

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