Chelan County and two nonprofit community groups will be conducting the annual Homeless Point in Time Count next week. 

The activity will be based at Lighthouse Christian Ministries in Wenatchee - 410 Columbia St., but staff and volunteers will be spread out in Chelan and Douglas counties to assist with the count  

Chelan County Homeless Housing Coordinator Amber Hallberg says they're able to track down and count every homeless person because of their personnel. 

"Our volunteers are not just members of the community, they're case managers from all of our homeless housing agencies," said Hallberg. "So, they have a pretty good understanding of their clients and where people tend to hang out and find shelter."  

The Point in Time Count started in 2005 when the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) assigned local municipalities the task of getting a head count of homeless people. 

HUD and the state Department of Commerce require a head court of homeless people for funding purposes, but the exercise also serves a local purpose.  

Chelan County Housing Program Manager Sasha Sleiman says they collect information from homeless people so they can find out what the needs are in the community. 

"What I've found in the past is people don't want to go to an emergency shelter because they have a dog, and some of the emergency shelters don't let you bring in a dog," said Sleiman. "OK, what does that tell us? We need emergency shelters that are animal friendly." 

Surveys conducted by outreach teams are meant to compile information on the living situations of homeless people, including how long they've been without a permanent home, where they sleep, where they're from and whether they had been denied access to a shelter.  

Demographic questions are also asked, including age, race, gender, veteran status, the number of children under 18 in the household and if they were fleeing domestic violence. 

The nonprofits partnering with Chelan County in the Point in Time Count are Chelan Valley HOPE and Upper Valley MEND. 

Chelan Valley HOPE will cover the Chelan Valley and Northern Douglas County  

Upper Valley MEND in Leavenworth will cover the Cascade School District service area and Cashmere.  

The two groups will also have a centralized site for people in those areas to be interviewed and get connected to services. 

Last year's Homeless Point in Time Count identified 121 people with 105 people unsheltered, which means they were living outdoors, in a vehicle or RV, in an abandoned building or in a tent.  

Also, 368 people were staying in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs or in a hotel through an emergency hotel/motel voucher program 

The homeless people interviewed are given resources, including backpacks, gloves, socks, hand warmers and food.  

The backpacks full of supplies are being provided by Community Action Council, in partnership with Chelan County. 

The Columbia Valley Community Health Mobile Clinic will be on site at Lighthouse Christian Ministries to provide access to medical professionals for people needing medical, mental health and substance use disorder services. 

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