Volunteers will head out in early March to count how many people are homeless in Richmond.
The count takes place on March 4 from 6 a.m. to midnight, and the idea is to find as many people who don’t have permanent housing as possible, explained Ida Wang, coordinator of the Richmond count and a mental-health worker.
Wang is still trying to recruit more volunteers who will be sent out in pairs to do shifts throughout Richmond. They will do a short anonymous survey of the homeless population, which will give information like age, gender, place of origin and how long they’ve been homeless.
This information can show where there are gaps in services, and gives concrete numbers when advocates apply for funding, Wang said. It also raises awareness of the extent of homelessness, she added.
Different groups in the community, like Turning Point, city bylaw officers, the Richmond Poverty Response Committee, can help identify where homeless people tend to congregate, sometimes in remote areas.
“A lot of (homeless people) are hidden from the community,” Wang said.
If someone is staying somewhere for less than 30 days and doesn’t pay rent, they are considered homeless.
People who have experience in outreach work or have experienced homeless are especially needed to volunteer for the March 4 count, Wang said, but those without experience are welcome as well and will be paired with a more experienced volunteer.
The count will be done on the same day throughout the province. It follows an overnight shelter count on March 3.
Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Erika Sagert, the volunteer coordinator for 2020 Homelessness Count. She can be reached at 778-945-2167 or email@example.com.