Census launched for Nevada County’s homeless | SierraSun.com

Census launched for Nevada County’s homeless

NEVADA COUNTY “-A comprehensive effort to count the homeless population of Nevada County will get under way Friday afternoon, sponsored by the just-formed Nevada County Continuum of Care.

The group of county organizations that serve the homeless is still forming, said Hospitality House director Cindy Maple. But group members wanted to be part of a federal homeless count that is scheduled nationwide every two years for the last 10 days of January.

Volunteers last counted the local homeless population in June 2005, but that count was done mostly to create awareness of homelessness in the community, Maple said. In 2005, 238 homeless people were counted.

One of the requirements for creating a Continuum of Care is the homeless count, which will help the organizations bring more funding into the county, Maple said.

The count will provide a picture of homelessness in Nevada County.

It will depend on confidential surveys filled out by agencies that have contact with homeless people and by the homeless themselves.

An event including food and entertainment where homeless people can complete surveys is from noon to 9 p.m. Friday at Grass Valley United Methodist Church, 236 S. Church St.

Flu shots will be provided by the county public health department from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and a stylist will offer haircuts all afternoon.

Homeless people can receive free coats and cold-weather gear, sleeping bags, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Each homeless person who completes a survey also will receive a thank-you gift card.

“We’re trying to find out certain demographic information, patterns of homelessness, information about disabilities and addiction and mental illness, to determine what is contributing to their homelessness and what type of service needs they have,” Maple said.

In addition, the homeless can take care of minor infractions or warrants at the event. Representatives from the District Attorney and Public Defender offices will attend, and a Superior Court judge will conduct a court session from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Teams of volunteers will head out from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday to conduct a street count, Maple said. They will be aided by Grass Valley Police Officer Gary McClaughry, who will train volunteers on safety protocol.

Free transportation will be provided from 1 to 5 p.m. from the Rood Center on Highway 49, Calanan Park and Pioneer Park in Nevada City, and from Brunswick Center, Memorial Park and Kmart in Grass Valley to the church.

To volunteer with the homeless count, call 271-7144.

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