Hate homeless people loitering on the streets? Staunch defender of the right to be homeless?
Doesn’t matter. Be part of the solution, even if we don’t agree on what that is. Give just a few hours this one single day; Friday, January 28th to count homeless people. Right now the Regional Task force On the Homeless is gearing up for the federally recognized yearly count. Unfortunately, with so little time left to find volunteers, the task force is desperate for people to pitch in. Ocean Beach still needs 15 volunteers to meet the minimum required to count the homeless effectively.
How can simple counting help? As you know, the public’s feelings and impressions aren’t as impressive as solid, cold data. Real figures can be used to generate action. In this case, federal action. This is the one and only time in the year that Ocean Beach gets the attention of Washington D.C on our homeless situation. If our homeless people aren’t counted on January 28th, they don’t exist in Washington which means Ocean Beach will be bypassed for any benefits or programs the federal government allots for the entire year.
I talked with Patricia Leslie, a Facilitator with the task force.
“This is our only chance to be heard. This count influences everything from a funding point of view for the whole year. This one count is critical of San Diego and Ocean Beach. All the counting in the world any other day doesn’t make any difference to Washington, just this one point-in-time count done across the nation during the last 10 days of January. If OB wants the.ears of the Federal Government, this is the critical moment. And this year, with the increase of homeless youth in OB, the count is even more important.” If we hope to get the funding we need is”
From a wider point of view, if communities don’t count the number of displaced people who are living and sleeping outdoors in urban environments, then it is easy to dismiss that there is a real issue. Is Ocean Beach experiencing a rise in people living on the street? Many of us think the answer is yes, especially a rise in young, un-housed transients. No matter what you think should be done, I believe many people agree that Ocean Beach is experiencing a problem, whether the problem is actually with un-homed people or with the community’s perception doesn’t matter, we do need to have some real numbers. Without hard numbers, much of our discussions are based on subjective opinion.
The Regional Task force on the Homeless says:
Easily accessible and accurate information is critical to developing effective programs for persons in need and our inter-connected communities. We address community needs by making detailed information available that enables local homeless providers to attract the resources needed and to serve the 8,000+ persons who are homeless in our region.
The way I see, making little stickers may get people talking but talking does no good if it doesn’t inspire action. Volunteering for the Regional Task for on the Homeless is an opportunity to take the next action. It is also an opportunity to join with our fellow Obecians, no matter what side of the fence they are, and work together as a community who loves our town.