Organizers, Trained Volunteers Canvas to Capture Number of Homeless Individuals in Community
Orange County, FL – On Jan. 27, a team of more than 160 trained volunteers, along with the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida (HSN), initiated the 2016 Point in Time Count (PIT) across Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. The PIT count, an annual physical count of homeless individuals, serves as a gauge to capture the number of persons or families in a community who meet the federal definition of homeless, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This year, Central Florida was pleased to be joined by HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti, who met with volunteers and organizers just prior to the count.
According to HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti “What works is something that Orlando is doing very well, which is strong leadership, good collaboration with nonprofits, with the health-providing community, and with people who provide homeless services.”
Led by HSN, the PIT takes place every year in Central Florida and fulfills a federal requirement for those communities receiving federal funds from the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. The count takes place the last week in January and includes a strict reporting process. Information that is collected is then documented into the Homeless Management Information System where case managers can identify, offer and manage appropriate services for families in need, as well as military Veterans and the chronically homeless.
From Martha Are, Executive Director of the Homeless Services Network, “Through the work of the HSN and our region’s many service agencies and volunteers, every day we are caring for the families and individuals in our community who need help. We’re so honored to welcome Deputy Secretary Coloretti to our local Point In Time count. Through our strong partnership with HUD and local partners, we’re better prepared to care for those who are struggling – for this coming year and beyond.”
“I am proud of the strides the Central Florida region has made in housing our homeless community,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “This annual count is an important benchmark as we evaluate our progress and identify areas we need to allocate resources to address homelessness in our area.”
“The Point In Time count is one of the most valuable tools we have in terms of assessing the needs of our most vulnerable citizens,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “This annual effort provides us with a snapshot in time, which is important not only to the state and federal funding process, but is critical in helping local government determine the overall magnitude of need.”
“While the PIT is federally required, the process is welcome as an additional tool that helps establish the dimensions of the problem of homelessness in the Central Florida community,” said Andrae Bailey, CEO & President of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. “Results help policymakers and program administrators track progress toward the goal of ending homelessness. “
Even with significant ongoing homeless initiatives in a community, it is not uncommon that reduced population counts can take multiple years to reflect efforts. Results of the 2016 count are expected to be available through HSN near the end of Feb. 2016.
Here in Central Florida, significant efforts remain ongoing to align existing models with national best practices, which focus on a housing first national philosophy. Through the direction of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, the tri-county area continues to focus on reducing veterans, chronic, and family homelessness.
Orange County was recently named as one of only five select communities in the nation to participate in a federal training opportunity called “Sequential Intercept Mapping,” a process that helps community leaders identify gaps and systemic weakness that often times effect vulnerable populations within the community, including homeless populations.
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Images from last night’s count can be found here
. Results from the 2015 Count can be found here
About Orange County Government: Orange County Government strives to serve its citizens and guests with integrity, honesty, fairness and professionalism. Located in Central Florida, Orange County includes 13 municipalities and is home to world famous theme parks, the nation’s second largest convention center, and a thriving life science research park. Seven elected members make up the Board of County Commissioners including the Mayor who is elected countywide. For more information please visit www.OCFL.net or go to the Orange County facebook and twitter pages.