Behind the scenes of Regina’s first homeless count
REGINA – Volunteers headed out in groups to blanket the city Wednesday night, with the mission to learn more about people struggling to keep a roof over their head in Regina.
It was all part of the city’s first ever point-in-time (PIT) count on homelessness, which aims to get a snapshot of the homeless population and ultimately help move those people off the street permanently.
Organizers are just beginning to crunch the numbers and look through the information collected, but are dubbing the initiative a success.
Around 130 volunteers turned out for the initiative and after a short safety training were given areas of the city to canvas.
Angelica Barth was a volunteer with a group in an area downtown, but after three hours of searching was unable to locate a single person.
“We haven’t found anyone but that doesn’t mean, at all, that there are no homeless people,” she said.
John Bailey, the general manager of the Regina YMCA (which acted as the lead organization for the PIT count), said that it’s too early to tell if the weather played a role in the count.
A lower tally in one area could be because of the cold and that perhaps more people are already at a shelter.
Still, all those details matter.
“If our shelter numbers are high and our street count is low, then yes the weather probably played a role,” Bailey explained, “but if our shelter numbers are low and our street counts are low then that means something else. That means our hidden homeless problem is actually higher than we thought.”
Mayor Michael Fougere addressed volunteers ahead of the walk at the downtown YMCA and said the information will be crucial in tackling the homeless and housing problem in the city.
“Measuring what you have as a baseline is critical. That’s how you get to the root of the problem by knowing the extent of the problem, and then you design the programs to deal with it after that,” he said.
A number of the volunteers were staff from local shelters or organization that provide services to the people they were out looking for.
Jessica Barre works at Addiction Services in Regina and said she volunteered for the PIT count as a way to be a solution to a serious problem.
“We know there’s a homelessness issue, we know there’s a housing issue,” she explained. “I think the more people that get on board the more of a difference we can make.”