Preparations under way for Rock County homeless count
JANESVILLE Here are five things you need to know about next week’s homeless count:
1. Volunteers and donations are welcome for the Rock County Homeless Intervention Task Force summertime homeless count. The count is scheduled overnight from 11 p.m. Wednesday, July 25, to 4 a.m. Thursday, July 26.
2. Workers at service agencies will collect the number of people living in emergency shelter in Rock County. This includes the House of Mercy in Janesville as well as the YWCA’s shelters in Janesville and Beloit.
The count also will include people staying in motels paid with vouchers from service agencies. These families and individuals are included in the total of “sheltered” homeless.
3. Workers and volunteers will spread out around the county to search for unsheltered homeless individuals and families. Many will search the county’s urban centers. They will seek people living in cars or in other limited kinds of shelter.
Other volunteers will check rest stops or parks in rural areas. Some will talk with bartenders or clerks in 24-hour retail stores to find people who might be lingering because they have nowhere to go.
4. Community Action of Rock County will total the numbers, which become a “snapshot” of the county’s homeless population, according to a news release from ECHO, a service agency for low-income families in Janesville. The data is used when agencies apply for grants to serve the homeless population in the county.
The event also serves to build community awareness of the homeless population, Marc Perry, Community Action director of planning and development, has said. Volunteers become advocates for the homeless. Gas station clerks and other workers learn to identify homeless people and what to do to help them, Perry has said.
5. Volunteers will connect homeless individuals or families with services and supplies. Cash is a welcome donation to the project.
The task force also can use the following items for care packages: bottled water, Sterno, personal care items such as soap and toothpaste, toilet tissue, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, blankets, rain slickers, bug spray, hearty soup, nutrition bars, trail mix and phone cards.