After Labor Day, many communities will start to plan for their January Point-in-Time Homeless Counts. How can you help as a funder?
Post Labor Day there are many communities that will be starting to plan for their January Point-in-Time Homeless Counts. Sure the count is over four months away, but the planning for these events can be a considerable undertaking, especially if the community wants to seize the opportunity to get the best information possible. Here are a few ways that funders can be of assistance:
1. Help recruit volunteers
Volunteers are critical to successfully undertaking a count, and in many communities this is a huge resource drain on the Continuum of Care spending many hours tracking down volunteers to assist. If, as a Funder, you are attached to an organization or corporation that has staff, it will come as a relief locally if you are able to commit staff to volunteer, and/or help spread the volunteer recruitment message through your networks and associates.
2. Improve data collected
There are some minimum data fields that Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates for the counts. This does not preclude communities from capturing more information. If your community investment has a particular mandate, you may want to work with your local count leaders to see a particular survey question asked that would help with your funding strategy. Several communities are also using their count as an opportunity to engage in a 100K Homes Registry week using the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT) to gain much better information on the population and prioritization of services. So, you may consider that “ready-made” solution as well.
3. Introduce new prospective funders to the issues of housing and homelessness
Don’t know if you want to get involved in funding housing and homelessness or know of another organization that might? The count is a great way to gain exposure to the issues of housing and homelessness through direct contact with individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The first-person experience can be very enlightening.
4. Use the information in education, advocacy and investment efforts
The Count is an event and an activity designed to collect data. It is what happens with the information that matters. To improve homeless service delivery in your community, make a concerted effort to use the data that is gleaned from the count to help with community education, advocate to elected officials and policy makers, and improve your investments based upon the local data.