Senior center become ground zero for homeless count - The Desert Trail: News

Senior center become ground zero for homeless count

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Posted: Friday, January 26, 2018 10:45 am | Updated: 7:54 am, Wed Jan 31, 2018.

TWENTYNINE PALMS — Three teams of volunteers working out of the Twentynine Palms senior center looked for and interviewed homeless residents for four hours Thursday morning, from 6 to 10 a.m., Jan. 25.

In all 18 homeless residents were counted.

While some homeless residents were counted in the field, others came in to the senior center to be enumerated and to receive incentive bags including food, clothing, hygiene items and a sleeping bag.

A little after 7:30 site coordinator Kelly Schumacher noted that three homeless residents had been in, received their incentive bags and been interviewed. The annual census is held across the county to help officials learn what services are needed for homeless residents.

Closer to 10, seniors and homeless residents mixed at the center, leading to some confusion about who the incentive bags were for.

Schumacher made use of the library at the center to interview homeless residents, including Jerry Church, who agreed to have his picture taken.

This year marked a changed in the way the count was conducted as volunteers took the census on paper and digitally in a pilot program testing new software that officials hope will make the count more efficient.

“Overall it went well, the digital was a little confusing for some but for Wayne Hamilton and I it went fairly well,” Schumacher said after the count was completed. “We both love the idea of being able on the digital. I pin points exactly where you come in contact with them. Hopefully they continue it next year.”

Lending a hand at the senior center, Assistant City Manager Larry Bowden said the Twentynine Palms count pit stop site was moved there from the community center on Joe Davis Drive in part because many of the city’s homeless residents already come to the senior center in the morning.

“We are hoping to get a more accurate count,” he said.

“I think it went very well,” volunteer counter Astrid Johnson said during a break at the senior center.

She and her team of volunteers worked in the Smoke Tree area of Twentynine Palms and in and around Knott Sky Park.

Johnson also helps homeless residents through her work with Morongo Basin ARCH (Aligning Resources Challenging Homelessness.)

“I already knew where some of them were,” she said.

Across the Basin

“I think it went really well,” Elizabeth Kirkland, who oversaw the basinwide Point in Time count, said. “The electronic system was pretty seemless.”

“We probably counted in the law 80s,” she said of the Basin wide numbers.

“It was pretty straight across the board from one end to the other,” she said. “We encountered a large population of youth 18 to 24,” she said. “We have a large population of youth but we also have a large population of seniors.”

Numbers, she noted, were down a little from 2017.

“All in all I still feel it was a successful count. We had no negative interactions with anybody. Nobody got hurt.”

© 2018 Hi-Desert Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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