2016-01-14 / Community

Volunteers needed for homeless count

Training available Wednesday in Thousand Oaks
By Alicia Doyle
Special to the Acorn

Ventura County is in need of volunteers 18 or older to complete the 2016 homeless count Tues., Jan. 26 at multiple sites throughout the county.

“Volunteers go out in pairs and talk to individuals on the streets,” said Tara Carruth, coordinator for the Ventura County Continuum of Care, a countywide partnership that aims to prevent and end homelessness.

The count is a requirement for every community that receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which allocates almost $2 million annually to support homeless individuals and families in Ventura County.

Volunteers who conduct the count will ask homeless individuals to complete a voluntary survey that addresses their experience in Ventura County, Carruth said.

“The data will be compiled into an annual report that will be shared with the community and stakeholders, and reported to HUD as a requirement of grant funding . . . to help guide funding decisions, seek additional resources for persons experiencing homelessness, and monitor the progress of the goal to end homelessness in Ventura County,” she said.

Volunteer counters must attend one training session in the city they’ll be working in. In Simi Valley, trainings sessions will be from noon to 1 p.m. Tues., Jan. 19, and from 6 to 7 p.m. Wed., Jan. 20 at the Samaritan Center, 280 Royal Ave.

In Thousand Oaks, a training session will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Wed., Jan. 20 at Hillcrest Villas Apartments, 2726 E. Hillcrest Drive.

Those wishing to volunteer in Moorpark may arrive at 10:30 a.m. or 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26—30 minutes before going out to conduct the count—at Moorpark Pantry Plus, 612 Spring Road.

In Camarillo, training also takes place 30 minutes before going out. Volunteers should arrive at 6 a.m. or 9 a.m. Jan. 26 at the Camarillo Police Department, 3701 E. Las Posas Road.

Betty Eskey, executive director of the Samaritan Center of Simi Valley, said the count will help determine what resources will be needed to address the county’s homeless issue.

“The count helps determine how many children are homeless, as well as veterans and folks with disabilities that are not being addressed at this time,” Eskey said.

Special efforts to engage veterans will be made on the day of the count, Carruth said.

“The Ventura County Continuum of Care has set a goal of ending veteran homelessness locally,” she said. “We have resources to provide housing to many of our homeless vets and continue to look for landlords who are willing to partner with us to help us provide housing to our local heroes.”

Over the past several years, Ventura County has seen a slight decrease in homeless count numbers, Carruth said.

“The (continuum’s goal is) to work collaboratively with all interested stakeholders to end homelessness in our community,” she said. “Our system is becoming significantly more data-driven, and this activity is just one of many that helps inform us on our progress and the work that still needs to be done to achieve our goal.”

For a complete list of training session sites or to register as a volunteer, visit www.volunteerventuracounty.org or call Yvonne Flores at United Way of Ventura County at (805) 485-6288.

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