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ASU students called to volunteer for annual homeless street count

January 24, 2013

ASU’s Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy will join in supporting an effort to better understand the number of individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County and how social service providers can become better equipped to meet their needs.

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) 2013 Point-In-Time Homeless Count is a one-night street count to determine the number of homeless people living in Maricopa County during a given point-in-time. The count includes a brief survey to identify some characteristics of people experiencing homelessness in the community. As the lead agency for the Maricopa County Continuum of Care, MAG coordinates the regional count each year. 

When: 5 a.m.-9 a.m., Jan. 30
Where: Various locations throughout Maricopa County
Register to volunteer

"The Point-In-Time Homeless Count annually brings together community leaders, volunteers and persons experiencing homelessness on one night with a common goal of better understanding the extent of homelessness in our community,” said Michael Shafer, professor and director of the Center for Applied Behavioral Health Policy housed within the College of Public Programs.

“This is unique and meaningful volunteer opportunity for students and the larger ASU community, particularly those who share the center’s concern and interest in improving policies, practices and programs that support people affected by behavioral health disorders,” Shafer said.

Volunteers will be deployed in groups of two or three to count and interview homeless individuals and families in specific geographic areas throughout the county. They will be responsible for covering an assigned geographic area, completing a brief survey with each homeless person encountered within their assigned area, and submitting the completed survey materials as directed.

Mead said volunteers are currently needed in the East and West Valley locations. They can expect to be outside counting and interviewing for up to four hours, depending on how long it takes to cover their assigned area.

MAG relies on federal, state and local funding to support a wide range of housing and services for homeless individuals and families. Communities that receive federal funding for homeless assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are required to conduct a comprehensive Point-In-Time count during the last 10 days of January. In addition to fulfilling federal requirements, the Point-In-Time count helps local governments and nonprofits more effectively allocate resources necessary to meet the needs of the homeless population in the community.

“In order to accomplish community goals and make a difference in the lives of homeless men, women, children, we first need to know who they are, where they are, and better understand the factors that led to their homelessness,” said Brande Mead, human services program manager with MAG.

“This effort, which relies heavily on the support and engagement of community volunteers, will increase awareness of homelessness and create a venue to drive further discussion and engagement toward ending homelessness,” Mead said.