Coalition does second count of homeless

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The Commonwealth Homeless Coalition held its 2nd Annual Point in Time Count over the weekend, this time with a few major changes.

Over 100 individuals registered for the Point in Time Count that started at 5am last Saturday.

According to Commonwealth Homeless Coalition chair Vivian Sablan, the coalition was able to prepare for the count this year and make some improvements. One of that was to differentiate those who are literally homeless from those who are at-risk of becoming homeless.

“I think things went smoothly…we do have some homeless and the at-risk of becoming homeless so we needed to differentiate,” she said.

Sablan said the count started at around 5:30am, with volunteers being assigned beaches they were required to comb through and then at about 7am, they started heading out to their assigned villages.

Another improvement the coalition made was inviting the volunteers to give their feedback on the count and jot down improvements that could be made for future counts.

“One thing we’re doing different this year is to make sure that we go back and send the information right away, and also bring back our volunteers to kind of give an open feedback on what went well, what went wrong, so we can improve for next year,” said Sablan.

The coalition also assigned more individuals who would input the data after the count so that the results are finalized quicker.

“We want to be able to bring that data out to the community because last year we kind of failed in that part. This year, we want to make sure we do it right away,” she said. “What’s really important right now is to pull apart this data and see what we can do with it in terms of getting more funding and resources to be able to make it to our next step, which is to make sure we have funding to connect our families to programs,” she added.

Sablan was also excited to see how much the community is aware of the count the second time around.

“When things are done for the first time, there are a lot of challenges. This being the second year, we are very fortunate that a lot of our volunteers were also volunteers from last year and we are beginning to see more community response,” she said.

According to Sablan, the coalition was able to distribute over 300 goody bags as incentives for the families that participated in the survey.

“Last year we only bagged 100. It shows the community is aware and they are responsive to the community’s needs,” said.

As of 12pm, Sablan said the coalition was able to receive 200 surveys.

Commonwealth Advocates for Recovery Efforts executive director Maxine Laszlo participated in the count last Saturday.

According to Laszlo, she was not able to participate in the count last year but she knows that the count could pave the way for families to receive assistance.

“A lot of these families are working. It’s not like what people think. It’s a lot of hard times so we just wanted to help get some data and help get funding for grants in the future,” she said.

Laszlo said that during the count, she was able to encounter families who are in similar living situations as the families that the CARE group serves.

Laszlo said that despite encountering obstacles like dogs, she would definitely continue to partake in the count because she sees the need of the community for grants that would cater to the battle against homelessness.

“There is so much need after [Typhoon Soudelor] and it’s just so hard to tell with these homes what was caused by the typhoon and what’s not and there is no way for this one organization to serve all. We’re just trying with what we can but it still looks like there is a lot of need,” she said. “…If we could really try and find other financial resource systems for the island.”

Kimberly Bautista | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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