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Annual homelessness census delayed until end of February

A worker surveys people during the annual Point in Time Count.
city of spokane
Courtesy of the City of Spokane
A worker surveys people during the annual Point in Time Count.

This year’s annual census of people who are homeless will be taken several weeks later than normal.

Spokane city officials hope the delay will produce a more accurate count.

The Point in Time Count, an annual national census of homeless conducted by local governments, is normally conducted in January, and consists of a count of people staying in shelters and those who are unsheltered. It’s designed to give leaders a snapshot of what homelessness looks like in a community over a single night.

Jenn Cerecedes, director of the city of Spokane’s Community, Housing and Human Services Department, says waiting until the omicron wave dissipates is likely safer for participants. She says warmer weather may also make connecting with unsheltered people easier.

“One of our largest challenges remains the ongoing pandemic environment that we're in, and then managing volunteers through that process,” she said. “We rely heavily on volunteers, and so those challenges can impact the success of a count."

Cerecedes says the data collected is federally mandated, but also informs local decision making.

She says the city still needs about 100 volunteers, and those looking to help can sign up on the city’s website. The count will be held from February 25 to March 1.

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.