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October 9, 2003

Reach out: Volunteers sought for homeless count

Partnership for Youth — the UW’s partnership with neighborhood agencies serving homeless youth — is searching for volunteers to help with this year’s One-Night-Count in the U-District. The count is part of the annual Street Count led by Operation Nightwatch, a member of the Seattle/King County Coalition for the Homeless. Partnership for Youth hopes to have at least 50 volunteers willing to join the effort this year.

The Street Count starts at 2:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 17. Representatives from more than 17 agencies walk the streets counting the homeless people who are sleeping outside on the street, in doorways, in cars, and in makeshift shelters.

The Street Count has grown over the years to 13 regions, including downtown Seattle, Capitol Hill, south Queen Anne, First Hill, Beacon Hill, Greenlake, Gasworks, Woodland Park, the University District, and the area around Safeco Field.

The count is currently one of the primary methods the city and local service providers use to keep track of how many homeless are living on the streets without shelter. It factors into funding decisions by both the city and other potential funding sources, which helps maintain, expand or at times decrease emergency services for the most needy in the community.

Note: The One Night Count is not done scientifically. The results are used to identify trends. For example, the count in 1999 suggested a significant — 16 percent — increase in the number of people living on the streets. But pinpointing the exact numbers of homeless can’t be done with this method.

U-District volunteers will meet in the first-floor commons area of the School of Social Work at 2 a.m. If you are interested in volunteering, contact PFY coordinator Rick Eberhardt, re28@u.washington.edu.