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Point-in-Time Count sheds light on Spokane's homeless population

The city of Spokane holds the Point-in-Time Count every year. More than 40 volunteers gathered to count the homeless population in Spokane County.

SPOKANE, Wash. — The annual Point-in-Time Count is officially underway.

More than 40 volunteers gathered to count the homeless population in Spokane County.

The city of Spokane holds the Point-in-Time Count every year to paint an accurate picture of Spokane's homeless population. The count uses a geographical informational systems map that shows locations with high homeless populations.

Volunteers rely on the map so they can carry out the count in an efficient manner.

"Once we got out into it, it became really fun. It's fun hearing from people and knowing their stories and being able to talk to them and seeing them as human," Kinsey Dewan, a WSU senior nursing student, said.

It's part of the WSU nursing curriculum to take part in the count.

"It brightens everyone's perspectives on kind of what they're dealing with and why they're in this position. I think there's a lot of stigma of why there's people living on the streets," Dewan said.

The Point-in Time Count first began in 2009 as a way to generate homeless services funds. Now, it helps the city learn more about who's homeless, why they're homeless and what barriers they face.

Daniel Ramos, one of the organizers, says the first couple days could not have gone any better.

"It was a go team moment. People took incentive, they were handing out gloves, bus passes all morning," Ramos said. "And surveys are coming through, so really encouraged right now."

And for volunteers like Lori Brookes, she hopes the count changes the narrative of how people perceive the homeless.

"It's huge, it impacts everybody. People's attitudes, how people feel about it, about how we go about getting along in our communities," Brookes said.

The Point-in-Time Count will continue through Sunday and survey the entire county.

Organizers expect a total of 170 volunteers to take part over the six-day event.

In 2017, there were 1,090 people experiencing homelessness in the Spokane community.

That jumped to 1,245 in 2018. It only grew by 64 people in 2019 and shot up to 314 in 2020. However, in 2021, due to the pandemic, only people in shelters were accounted for, which is why the number dropped to 992.

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