08 Feb One Night Count
Every year, All Home King County organizes volunteers to collect data on the needs of people experiencing homelessness all around King County. Gretchen Phillips-Bond, Housing Case Manager at The Sophia Way, participated in her first Point in Time count, as part of The Sophia Way team, along with fellow housing case manager Tiffany Rodgers and Director of Client Services and Shelter, Dietra Clayton.
Every year, All Home King County organizes volunteers to collect data on the needs of people experiencing homelessness all around King County. The count takes place in the early hours of the morning when people are most likely to be asleep and undisturbed by the observations of volunteers.
This year, Dietra, Tiffany and I participated in the Point in Time Count, along with nearly 1000 other community members. Our team assembled at the Bellevue Presbyterian Church at 2 a.m., where Board Member Karina O’Malley was also a volunteer. Thankfully, All Home provided coffee and granola bars, and despite the early hour, the gymnasium was buzzing with excitement.
Teams were assigned regional maps, with color-coded sections indicating different cities and areas of unincorporated King County. These color-coded sections each had a tally sheet where volunteers recorded data about folks they might encounter during the count, such as age & gender, if they were with a family or in an encampment, or if someone was sleeping in their car. Each team had completed training online about what data to record and how to record it accurately. Teams also often had guides (individuals currently experiencing or have experienced homelessness) who could point out likely places someone could camp out.
Our team did a comprehensive drive around our map area for three hours. We drove down every side street, walked along railroad tracks, checked out parks, searched under bridges, and stopped by church parking lots. It was a bit spooky since there were very few cars driving around and a lot of fog in our area. When we finished mapping our area, we had found just two cars with signs of someone sleeping inside. Our site lead had reassured us that Count Us In tells us where people are and where they are not, so it’s okay if we don’t find many people experiencing homelessness in our designated area.
When we returned to Bellevue Presbyterian Church, we were greeted with more coffee, pastries, and fruit. Our team checked in our map and tally sheets, after making sure our sheets were filled out correctly. It was 6 a.m., and finally, we could head home.
I am so glad that I signed up to participate. It was good to bond with Dietra and Tiffany, and to use each other’s experiences and knowledge to figure out the best places to look. Though I was tired from lack of sleep, I felt satisfied with a job well done.
~ Gretchen Phillips-Bond