Helena volunteers participate in Point-in -Time count

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Posted at 9:35 AM, Jan 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-27 11:35:28-05

HELENA — Across the U.S., a Point-in-time survey is being conducted to measure housing instability and determine the number of resources needed to help those experiencing homelessness.

Thursday afternoon, volunteers gathered at the United Way for a briefing before heading out.

Similar volunteers and community partners across the state will conduct brief interviews with individuals who are unsheltered or staying in an emergency shelter.

Their goal is to determine an accurate number in the Helena community who experience being unsheltered, and the Community Impact Coordinator Jeff Busher hopes that collecting these numbers will help better the unsheltered population.

"These folks are our neighbors. That's an important thing to remember. And it's important that we get an accurate count because if we're going to get the assistance they need for them, we need to find funding. And sometimes our nonprofits that do a lot of this work. They just don't have the funding to do as much as we'd like to for them," said Busher.

The number of volunteers from last year in Helena was similar to this year's POT.

"We had about 25 volunteers, actually. I think it was closer to 30. I want to thank some groups. Carroll College sent some students. We borrowed some iPads from Carroll College, Good Samaritan, the V.A. A number of agencies have shown up to help us with this count, as well as a number of individual, just private citizens that are interested in making sure that this count is accurate," said Busher.

While Busher is unsure what this year will look like, he's hoping for an improvement from last year.

"Last year, our count total was 143. It was a much colder night last year. We only found ten people who were not indoors. Most of our count last year were folks that were indoors in emergency shelters." said Busher.

United Way is also involved with programs to help the unsheltered, especially during the winter season.

"One of the things another program that we're involved in here at the United Way is the shower program at St Paul's United Methodist Church," said Busher, "Every Tuesday morning, we open the doors for free showers for our unsheltered folks. And through that program, I've also gotten acquainted with a handful of our unsheltered neighbors."