Recent blizzard could impact 2016 homeless count
While the results of Wednesday's annual homeless count are still being calculated, volunteers at some survey locations weren't very optimistic about the likelihood of unsheltered individuals showing up to be counted, especially with inclement weather and the remnants of the weekend blizzard.
NJ Counts 2016, or Project Homeless Connect took place Wednesday.
In Ocean County, volunteers at the Toms River Community Church at 22 Robbins St., were setting up an area inside the building to be able to interview as many as 32 homeless individuals, according to Judith Weippert, chairperson of the church's Missions Committee. The homeless are considered unsheltered individuals, including those in transitional housing programs, those living in tents in wooded areas, or those on the streets.
"It will be very difficult, very difficult, but we're hoping that they do come. Sometimes, some people will go around and pick them up, but we can't make those arrangements because we don't have the manpower," Weippert said.
Volunteers, who help conduct the yearly survey, also fan out into the woods and other areas where homeless individuals are known to frequent to encourage them to take part in the population count.
The main purpose of the roughly 10-minute survey was to find out where homeless individuals were at one point in time, according to Weippert.
"We ask them what kind of funds they get, if they're subsidized in any way at all, their age, how long they've been homeless, things like that," Weippert said.
Weippert said the survey provides the homeless with an opportunity to rest, stay warm for a few minutes, receive some human contact and health screenings.
"We have food for them, we have coats for them. There will be a nurse here for them to take their blood pressure and there will be a social worker here," said Weippert.