Street Count Week

By Colleen Sinsky

From the outside, last week’s meeting with the outreach team looked more like a military operation plan, than our usual monthly planning meeting. We were huddled around zoned maps of Multnomah county while Marc deployed teams to cover various spots over the next week. We each claimed different areas, both urban and out in the woods to survey for the biennial county Homeless Street Count.

A portion of our federal funding requires that JOIN, along with a number of other social service agencies participate in this comprehensive “census” to count the number of people sleeping outside on a given night in January. Portland Online has more info here, including data from previous years’ counts. While it would be impossible to get perfect numbers, the Street Count is a helpful tool for the government to get a better idea of the existing need. Yesterday Quinn and I spent most of the day hiking (yes, literally hiking. I love this job) around an undeveloped butte and looking for tucked away camps to interview the people staying there.

Conversation in the office has revolved a lot around what our experiences have been with the count so far, and most of our normal work has been put on hold while we shift focus for a week. Last night Lio and I took a reporter from The Oregonian along with us to the northwest. You can check out Molly’s story about it here.