Rapid City’s Point In Time Count gets underway at Wilson Park

A Volunteer Talking To A Homeless Resident While Completing The SurveyRAPID CITY, S.D.– Tuesday January 24 marked the official start of the Point-In-Time count for Rapid City. First started in 2005, the event takes place nationwide every odd-numbered year at some point within the last 10 days of January, and is used to provide the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as local organizations, with an understanding of the number of homeless people in the community. Black Hills Regional Homeless Coalition Coordinator Amy Ritchie explains more about the count.

How do you find the people to count for the survey?

One of the biggest things they do while searching for people is go to the weekly feeds put on by members of the community.

“We find that if we go to the community meals, that is where we’re going to find people in the most need,” Ritchie said. “So we want to make sure to get down here and get an accurate count, try and catch everybody as they are coming through.”

How are you able to communicate to the public about the count?

According to Ritchie, they try to use as many resources as possible such as the media, billboards, and more.

“Our community partners are really good at spreading the word to the to the clients as they come through the door,” she explained. “And we do send out fliers, so those should be out there listing out the community meals where we will be assessing our account.”

What is the significance of January 24 for the count? 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires that the counts be done within the last 10 days of January. In South Dakota, the state chose January 24 as their count day.

“Every time we ask a question for our survey, it’s always in reference to where they were on this day and at this night,” she explained. “Most of the people that work with our houseless population will admit that 1300 or 1400 across the state is significantly low, which means we’re missing people. So every year we just strive harder to get a better count and identify every single houseless person that we can possibly find.”

Is there still time to sign up as a volunteer?

Yes, Ritchie says there are still some positions available to help out Wednesday and Thursday. “There are a few openings at this point in conjunction with Journey On. However, there is a little bit of training involved, so if they are interested, they can call the Volunteers of America and ask for Amy and we’ll run through a quick training. If they want to help us do surveys, we’d be more than happy to assist with that.”

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