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Point In Time: Official Count Of Idaho's Homeless Taking Place This Week


The weather forecast is particularly cruel this week for the men, women and children who don't have a roof over their head.  That said, the official Point in Time count of the homeless is continuing this week. The P.I.T. began with a count inside Treasure Valley homeless shelters; and on Thursday, Jan. 28 and Friday, Jan. 29, teams of people will fan out across the region, travelling to so-called "hot spots" where homeless men, women and children might be.  The P.I.T. is critical to obtain federal funding for services, and is also a snapshot of what the region's homeless plight looks like.

Maureen Brewer, senior manager at the City of Boise's Housing Division and administrator of Our Path Home, visits with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about this year's P.I.T.

“Today and tomorrow we have teams of staff, primarily our street outreach teams, going out to known locations where people experiencing homelessness.”

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition on Boise State Public Radio News. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. At a time in our shared history where there is so much disconnection, the importance of being counted takes on a certain urgency. And that most certainly includes counting the men, women and children who may not have a home. And this morning, we're going to talk a bit about that with Maureen Brewer. She is senior manager in the City of Boise Housing Division. She is also currently serving as administrator of Our Path Home, a public private partnership working to end homelessness. Maureen Brewer, good morning.

MAUREEN BREWEER: Good morning, George. Thanks for having me.

PRENTICE: P I. T is the acronym . Point in time and that is happening this week. So talk to me as a lay person. What is P.I.T.?

BREWER: The P.I.T. count stands for point in time. Our Path Home is the public private partnership working to end homelessness in Ada County, and is charged with conducting the point in time count once a year every January. So we are undertaking that effort this week.

PRENTICE: It's my understanding that last evening that count included shelters, the known shelters where men, women and children may have spent the night.

BREWER: That's right, George. So last night we counted in all of our emergency overnight shelters. And then today and tomorrow we have teams of staff, primarily our street outreach teams, going out to known locations where people experiencing homelessness spend time during the day to do a brief interview with them to find out where they slept the night before. And that helps us understand how many people were sleeping outside on the night of the shelter count.

PRENTICE: Anecdotally, can you give me a sense of what that is? Does that include  parks or possibly near the river?

Credit Courtesy Maureen Brewer
Maureen Brewer, senior manager Housing and Community Development, City of Boise

BREWER: Yes. We have a list of hotspots, if you will, or known locations, because we have what we call a street outreach team who are case managers, and that's their job, to be on the street day in, day out on a daily basis, connecting with people that are experiencing unsheltered homelessness. We have a really good idea of where they are during the day and right now in response to the pandemic that we are all living through. We also have a day shelter where we have quite a few folks accessing services during the day. So certainly we will be counting at that location as well.

PRENTICE: How about folks who, sadly, may be in jail or or maybe they're in a motel for a night? Are they counted?

BREWER: The short answer is no, but we are actually prohibited, if you will. We are not supposed to count anyone who was in jail, anyone who might be double that, anyone who might be in a hotel motel. So while certainly the point in time count serves as a tool and a bit of a census for us, it's just one tool that we use to understand how many people are actually experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity in our county.

PRENTICE: I'm glad you brought that up: tool. This triggers... what? Funding?

BREWER: It does a couple of things. It helps Congress set funding annually. We also, again, as that sort of formal partnership charged with planning for homelessness within our community.. we report it every year as part of a competitive application to receive funds, and that counts towards our performance metrics.

PRENTICE: There's a lot of work in public service. There is a lot of work at City Hall. Why do you do what you do?

BREWER: You know, it's pretty personal for me in that I am a working mom and I made a decision a couple of years ago that if I was going to work outside the home, I wanted to do it in a way that was meaningful and impactful. I feel strongly that housing is a human right and that there are really unfair stigmas, if you will, attached to our homeless community that are undeserved, particularly in this moment in time that we've been in in the last year or so, for the first time that I have seen, housing and homelessness is really entering the national conversation in the way that the average community resident can understand. It's easier… it's more clear at this moment in time to see that housing is, in fact, health.. when we are being encouraged to shelter at home to stay home. Not everybody in our community is afforded that opportunity. And it's an honor to work with our community partners and their nonprofit agencies and the very committed staff that we have to help ensure that the city of Boise is protecting our residents experiencing homelessness to the degree that we can.

PRENTICE: She is Maureen Brewer, senior manager in the City of Boise Housing Division.  I am looking at the forecast...It's cruel. Bundle up…but it is cruel most evenings for way too many men, women and children. Thank you for what you do and thanks for giving us a few minutes this morning.

BREWER: Thanks for having me. George.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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