The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) along with multiple public and private agencies on Jan. 24 participated in the District of Columbia’s annual homeless Point-in-Time (PIT) count, which was organized by The Community Partnership For the Prevention of Homelessness (TCP).
A handful of BID staffers joined more than 100 volunteers to assist with the city’s count, part of a federal mandate by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to enumerate the number of sheltered and unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. This data helps inform local, state and national agencies and their partners about the effectiveness of strategies to reduce and end homelessness.
“I have no way of knowing if what we’re doing is working,” said Linda Kaufman, DowntownDC BID director of homeless services. “Without the data, we may think what we’re doing is working.”
Volunteers, working a shift from 8:30 p.m.-2:00 a.m., gathered at Thomson Elementary School (1200 L Street) to get their marching orders before splitting into groups and receiving zone assignments. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser kicked off the five-hour stretch with a warm welcome of support and reiterated the city’s commitment to make homelessness “rare, brief and nonrecurring.”
A team of 20+ volunteers that included BID and Pathways to Housing DC staff worked together to canvass the 138 blocks within the BID’s boundaries. Volunteers layered in warm gear and armed themselves with survey forms, working into the early morning hours covered every block and alley in the BID area.
The BID encountered 82 unsheltered people down from 129 in 2017. The BID continues to work with Pathways to Housing DC to provide a clinically based outreach team that offers street-level intervention to move individuals beyond homelessness to independence.
In December 2017, the BID began conducting its own monthly homeless count to better gauge the reduction of unsheltered persons experiencing homelessness and to evaluate the effectiveness of outreach services. The next count will take place on Feb. 27.
For more information or if you’re interested in volunteering please contact Homeless Services Director, Linda Kaufman, firstname.lastname@example.org.