Upcoming CT count is opportunity to help end homelessness

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A scene from last year's PIT Count in Hartford's Bushnell Park.

The Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness is calling for individuals across the state to join us Jan. 26 in the largest national data collection event on homelessness of the year. The Point-in-Time (PIT) count is an important annual exercise to estimate the total number of homeless on a given night across Connecticut and the country and a wonderful opportunity for individuals to get involved in ending homelessness.

By participating in the Point-in-Time count, volunteers have the opportunity to be part of our efforts in 2016 and contribute to progress on ending homelessness. The  PIT is required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to develop the data crucial to assessing the success of current programs, progress made nationally in the fight to end homelessness, and to determine future resource allocations for the upcoming year.

For those experiencing homelessness, the PIT offers a chance for them to connect with volunteer surveyors who can record their needs, and add them to the community registries for housing resources and toward the services and supports that that can end their homelessness.  Volunteers who connect with our neighbors experiencing homelessness have the opportunity to engage with people who live in our communities, and sometimes on our streets – to hear their stories, and to offer assistance.  Homelessness is not a concept:  it is a life experience that many of us will never face.

By learning about the stories of our neighbors in need, volunteers learn about their own communities in new and powerful ways.  This experience can be life-changing –  for those experiencing homelessness, as well as for the volunteers working with them.

Volunteering to participate in the PIT allows you to be part of Connecticut’s great progress built from the community support, great partnerships, and reliable up-to-date data that powers our efforts to end homelessness.  Connecticut’s 2015 Point-in-Time Count showed substantial progress in efforts to end homelessness, with overall homelessness in Connecticut is down 10 percent compared to 2013 and people living on the streets down by 32 percent.

Connecticut ended the chronic homelessness (or long-time homelessness of people with disabilities) among veterans in 2015.  Connecticut is one of only four states participating in the national Zero: 2016 campaign to end all homelessness among veterans and to end all chronic homelessness by December 2016.  We are close to our goal of ending all veteran homelessness, and gearing up for accelerated efforts to end chronic homelessness — a goal we can reach in Connecticut.

Ending homelessness is possible and you can be part of progress.  With your support to collect the most reliable data possible, we will continue to build momentum. Together, we can bring an end to homelessness in Connecticut.

Learn more and register at www.cceh.org/ct-pit-2016.  To volunteer, please contact Jackie Janosko at jjanosko@cceh.org. For press, please contact Sarah Chess at schess@cceh.org or call (860) 721-7876 ext 116.

Lisa Tepper Bates is Executive Director of the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness.

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