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Washtenaw County aims to end chronic homelessness by 2016 through national campaign

  |  February 2, 2015

WASHTENAW COUNTY – Volunteers and Washtenaw County staff were out in the communities Wednesday, Jan. 28, as part of an effort to determine the local homeless population and get a better idea of what assistance they need.

Although the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates the Point in Time (PIT) Count annually, this year is different because Washtenaw County is also using it to kick off its involved in a national campaign called Zero: 2016.

This campaign aims end both veteran and chronic homelessness by December 31, 2016.

“It’s absolutely a reachable goal and I’m confident we’ll get there,” said Andrea Plevek, Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development human services manager.

Not only are they trying to get a complete head count, but she said they have been surveying to get a good understanding of what everyone’s background is and what their housing needs are – so communities and local support providers can work together towards finding housing for those experiencing the most acute needs.

“It’s so important for us to have a full understanding of what those needs are in this community,” Plevek said.

People have seemed very willing to talk to those doing the count, she said. It really helps to know what the needs are and where the gaps are in homeless services, she said.

Aubrey Patino with Avalon Housing and Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County said she’s really excited about the Zero: 2016 campaign. Patino helped in efforts to locate, count and survey homeless residents in Ypsilanti.

“I think that it’s incredibly important that we identify the level and scope of need in our communities so that we can adequately resource it and tackle the problem,” she said.

Overall more than 80 volunteers came together to help out in Washtenaw County, Plevek said, more than enough. Multiple employees of local non-profit organizations took time off their daily activities to come help, she said.