Volunteer opportunity: Help Hillsborough count the homeless

From dawn until the nighttime hours of February 20, volunteers throughout Hillsborough County will scour alleys, streets, campsite areas and more to account for as many homeless individuals as possible. It’s a huge endeavor -- and it’s one that carries a great deal of weight. To develop a specialized strategic plan based on current needs and to receive appropriate HUD funds, Hillsborough County needs to deliver an accurate count.

“Housing is a huge issue,” says the CEO of the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, Antoinette D. Hayes-Triplett. “If you tack on other issues that the homeless experience, it can be difficult to succeed -- so everyone needs to be counted.”

The Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative runs point for the Point-in-Time count. The Initiative is designated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the lead for Hillsborough County’s Continuum of Care (CoC). The Continuum of Care, which is comprised of various organizations, works together to tackle homelessness. 

Blame Jose Gaspar as the reason Tampa hasn’t yet counted its 2020 homeless population. The point in time count typically occurs nationwide the last week of January, but thanks to a certain invasion and pirate festival, the Hillsborough count is delayed about a month.

Hayes-Triplett’s day will begin around 6:30 a.m. February 20, when she’ll thank volunteers gathered at the Sparkman Wharf control center. Volunteers aged 18+ will work within three shifts to help homeless individuals complete surveys and will manually record observation surveys if necessary. Once the surveys come off the streets, the data entry begins. It takes approximately a month to process all of the data.

Approximately 600 volunteers will deploy from about 8 sites throughout the County to achieve as full a count as possible. Organizations and individuals alike are encouraged and invited to participate. All are valued, Hayes-Triplett says.

“The more accurate the count, the better,” she says.

Learn more and sign up here. For more information, visit the PIT Count page on the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative website or follow the latest on Facebook.
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Read more articles by Amy Hammond.

Amy Hammond is a freelance writer and author of children’s books that encourage the next generation to attend college. When not indoctrinating youth about the necessity of higher education, she enjoys exploring the paradise that is her St. Petersburg home. She holds a degree in Public Relations from the University of Florida and a Masters in Secondary English Education from the University of South Florida. Her work has appeared in such venues as the Tampa Bay Times. Children’s Book Titles by Amy Hammond include: When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Gator; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a ‘Nole; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Bull; When I Grow Up, I’m Bama Bound; When I Grow Up, I’ll Be a Tiger.