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This month, Chaffee County will conduct its first Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of people experiencing homelessness within the county – both adults and unaccompanied youth — since 2016. The PIT Count of sheltered and unsheltered people helps establish the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in a specific area.

The resulting PIT data helps Continuum of Care (CoC) organizations that support homeless populations to understand the number and characteristics of unsheltered people on a county and state level. The surveys will be conducted in Salida, Buena Vista, Poncha Springs, and Johnson Village by volunteers who received PIT Count training through the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

A PIT Survey Volunteer Training has been scheduled for 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday, January 26 at the First Presbyterian Church in Salida, located at 7 Poncha Blvd, Salida.

Efforts to address homelessness have been going on across the state. A major, year-long project came together last year at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus Infrastructure and Engineering Pathway’s Program. Six Tiny Homes were loaded onto trucks and delivered to Colorado Village Collaborative to provide shelter for homeless.

With this count in hand, organizations can better identify local needs, advocate for those experiencing homelessness, and measure progress toward reducing homelessness.

The information is used to assist local organizations with applying for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other homelessness, housing and assistance funds. HUD requires that CoCs conduct this survey during the last seven days of January each year.

“Local organizations began working together last fall as part of Chaffee County’s Continuum of Care to plan and organize this count,” said Chaffee County Hospitality Board Member Mo Zeimet. “The PIT Count is incredibly important so that we have the data and tools necessary to adequately support our community members who are experiencing homelessness. With housing costs skyrocketing, including in rural areas, we need to do all we can to help our Chaffee neighbors during this time.”

A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals. Local CoCs, like the one in Chaffee County, are also required to conduct annual Housing Inventory Counts (HIC) to document the residential resources dedicated to assisting people experiencing homelessness within their communities.

In Chaffee County, the point-in-time aspect of this year’s annual survey will focus on where people spent the night of Tuesday, January 24, 2023 – whether they were sheltered or unsheltered. Then, during the January 25-31 time period, volunteers will collect that data as part of a brief survey that also asks for general demographic information; not including any specific, personal-identifying information

Local organizations involved include The Chaffee Housing Authority, Chaffee County Community Foundation, Chaffee County Public Health, and Chaffee County Hospitality which donated useful items that will be distributed in gift bags to individuals who answer the survey.