Kitsap County planning to inventory its homeless

A countywide survey of the local homeless population will be conducted later this month in order to gather data about who is homeless and why.

The data will be used to help provide the necessary food and housing resources to alleviate the problem.

“We need to develop a baseline for how many people are homeless in the county,” said Beverly Kincaid, who is coordinating the South Kitsap module of the survey. “From the results, we will be able to provide the resources for what they actually need.”

The survey will take place Jan. 29 and 30 at several locations throughout the region.

It will be conducted proactively, with volunteers visiting places where homeless people gather, and passively, at specific locations where they can visit to complete the survey.

Kincaid is currently recruiting volunteers to assist with the count.

In preparation, a training session for volunteers will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 15 at the Givens Community Center in Port Orchard.

Kincaid said data reflecting how people became homeless is as important and interesting as the raw numbers.

Last year’s countywide survey identified 715 homeless individuals, of whom 60 percent were male.

Seventy-five households reported living outdoors, and 62 were living in vehicles at the time of the 2008 survey.

About 238 had a mental health issue.

Volunteers anticipate finding an increase in the number of homeless individuals and families in the county this year.

The annual point-in-time countywide homeless count is sponsored by the Kitsap County Continuum of Care Coalition and is mandated by Washington state’s Homelessness Housing and Assistance Act.

All information collected during the count is confidential.

Kincaid admitted that homeless people may be reluctant to participate, but should do so because increased numbers will lead to greater funding.

While some federal funding levels are affected by the survey, most of the money used to support the homeless comes from private and faith-based sources, according to Kincaid.

“People volunteer for different reasons,” Kincaid said. “But in a lot of cases it is to help someone who is less fortunate than you are.”

Individuals who would like to volunteer to assist with the count in South Kitsap should contact Kincaid at (360) 895-1321 or prior to the scheduled Jan. 12 orientation.

A previous edition of the story printed an incorrect date.

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