Community Counselling & Resource Centre

Homelessness surveys being conducted this week throughout the Peterborough region

March 22nd, 2018

In a bid to curb homelessness problems throughout the region, people are fanning out this week to find the most vulnerable.

ICountPtbo is underway, which is seeing volunteers and staff members from the city and county social services departments as well as other community organizations, speaking with people to determine their housing needs.

The survey is being organized by the local United Way and is a followup to the Point-In-Time Count that was conducted in 2016.

Dorothy Olver, manager of homelessness and addictions services with the city’s social services division, says this year the count was held over the course of four days, from Tuesday March 20 to Friday March 23.

She adds over the course of the four days surveys were being conducted in 17 city locations and 13 county locations. In addition to this, nine street count teams are out in the city and a youth event was held on Wednesday night at the public library to survey young people.

Lisa Smith, director of philanthropic impact with the United Way Peterborough and District, says this year the word is out that the surveys are being conducted which is making it easier.

“They are coming to find us to do the survey,” says Smith.

Olver isn’t sure how many surveys have been conducted, adding the number will be greater than 2016 considering the extra days added to the ICountPtbo initiative.

The results will be compared with what was collected in 2016. That year saw 255 people approached and 100 surveys conducted over the course of one night in March. In a report released a couple of months later, the United Way was able to say there were 120 homeless people in Peterborough on the night the surveys were held.

To get a more in-depth number this time around, a more comprehensive survey is being conducted with people who consent to providing their names. The purpose, says Olver, is to come up with a “By Name List” which will allow social services to help the most vulnerable by quickly matching them with supports that are needed.

“This is how communities like Medicine Hat have ended homelessness,” says Smith. “We are trying to get to know everyone by name and what is happening and to make sure the system is responding in a tailored way.”

Olver says the more in-depth surveys will also determine where gaps are in the system to allow for funding to be directed to fix the problem.

That’s what happened in 2016. Following the Point-In-Time Count it was determined more needed to be done to help homeless youth. Smith says a program called A Way Home was implemented to help youth find rapid housing when in need to avoid the shelter system.

“And that was a direct response from what we saw last time,” says Smith.

She adds this year the data collected will have an even greater impact because they’ve had more time to plan and prepare.

Preliminary data from this year’s surveys will be released on April 12 followed by a final report in June.