I saw him sitting on the stairs of the Epicenter, uncontrollably shaking and holding a cup out for money. I had never seen him before. As my Point in Time count team approached, he barely glanced up. “Good morning, my name is Allison and I work for Urban Ministry Center’s outreach team. We’re out checking on people who may have slept outside last night to see if there’s anything you need, and if you’d be willing to answer a few questions as part of a community-wide effort to learn more about homelessness.” Though he refused to participate in the survey, we were able to get him a sleeping bag, and he agreed to meet with me at UMC the next day.
One year later, that man is still experiencing homelessness, however, with the help of the outreach team he is now connected to disability income, Medicaid, and mental health care. He was able to get his ID and social security card, clear up some of his legal issues, and he is on a path towards housing. If not for the Point in Time count, we may never have connected with this extremely vulnerable man.
The Outreach and Engagement team at UMC works to house the most vulnerable chronically homeless individuals living on the streets and in camps. We meet people literally and mentally where they are, and build relationships to journey with them from the streets to a permanent home. We play a critical role in planning the unsheltered Point in Time count, helping to map out locations of our unsheltered neighbors, develop the survey instrument used, train volunteers, and lead teams. The count not only provides the community with valuable data, it is a way for our team to connect with new neighbors.
The count this year is January 26th, when it will undoubtedly be cold. We are still in need of winter supplies, including sleeping bags, tents, tarps, gloves and hats. These are essential survival items many neighbors may need, and they go a long way in building rapport and demonstrating the community is looking out for them. More information about how to donate, including a link to an Amazon wish list can be found here: https://www.urbanministrycenter.org/2017-point-time-donations/