WENATCHEE — Local officials are hoping to use the nationwide point-in-time homeless count on Jan. 24 as an opportunity to address the immediate needs of unsheltered people in Chelan and Douglas counties.
“In the short term it’s really an opportunity to connect with people and say ‘we recognize that you’re unsheltered and we’re here to help with immediate needs,’” said Oliver Crain, the city of Wenatchee housing programs coordinator.
That day volunteers from local social services organizations will visit parks, alleys and downtown areas to count the current homeless population and hand out donated clothing and hygiene supplies, Crain said.
The survey also allows counties to gauge homelessness over time. The 2017 count recorded 474 homeless people in Chelan and Douglas counties — up from 370 the year before.
The survey is performed in counties nationwide on the same day and results are expected in May, according to the State Department of Commerce.
The state and federal government use those results to help decide where assistance funding is distributed, Crain said.
“If we don’t know who’s out there then we can’t make good decisions about where that funding goes,” he said.
Wenatchee will also have an event at the Wenatchee Community Center from noon to 4 p.m. on Jan. 24 aimed specifically at providing unsheltered people with a meal, donations and medical attention.
“We’re offering a hot meal, donations of warm clothing, hygiene supplies, winter gear for people who are unsheltered and living outside,” Crain said. “We do invite anyone who’s experiencing housing instability to come, but we’re really focused on those people who are outside and have nowhere else to go.”
Similar events are also being planned in outlying communities including Chelan, Leavenworth and Entiat, Crain said.