Martina defines her situation as “residentially challenged.”
She was counted and got a housing application for her and her boyfriend.
Cindy is in a temporary living situation.
She was counted and got a hot bowl of chili.
Edward has been on the streets on and off for four years.
He was counted and got clothes, toiletries packed in medicine bottles, and food.
Most of the people in the Dream Center on Wednesday seemed to know each other as they mingled around the chili, plastic bags of clothes, backpacks and boxes of food. But according to the survey administered by volunteers, the identity of people experiencing homelessness remain anonymous.
The survey originates from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and includes questions about veteran status, mental and physical disabilities, alcohol and drug abuse, HIV and AIDS, domestic violence, time without permanent housing, and cause for leaving last living arrangement. The list of options is 21 items long and includes an option for “other.”
The survey is called the ‘Point in Time’ count and is a combined effort between HUD and local organizations to make sure every homeless person is counted, which then helps organizations requesting federal aid to show what the community needs.
The United Community Action Network is the group in the Douglas County area that led the count. Two stationary sites were set up in Roseburg, and several roaming teams went to the edges of the county to make sure everyone was counted and received resources.
“They’ll be in vans or one bus,” UCAN Homeless Outreach Coordinator Larry Clark said. “We fill them with supplies, and hopefully some of the homeless can congregate in those locations. We’ll be stopping there and then driving around to the different camps.”
Cindy used her last paycheck to stock up on supplies, so she passed on the jackets, clothes, sleeping bags and toiletries being handed out at the St. George Episcopal Church on Cass Avenue.
“I’m covered for a while, so I didn’t want to get any more because I don’t need any more,” she said. “It’s good that they are here today.”
She used to work for UCAN before her position was eliminated a few years ago.
“I participated in this on the other side,” Cindy said. “Unfortunately I qualify, so I thought I’d check it out. I always wondered how people ended up homeless. I was always curious about their stories. We live in one of the richest countries in the world. It shouldn’t be like this.”
Karen McGuire is a Retired Veteran Service Partner at UCAN and helped serve doughnuts and chili at St. George’s. She said they moved from the First Presbyterian Church due to flooding in the fall and were seeing smaller numbers than previous years — not because there are fewer people without permanent shelter, but because the Dream Center was participating in the count for the first time in the new location in the basement of the First Baptist Church.
“That’s where people are comfortable and it’s been flooded today, they’ve had such an influx,” McGuire said. “Everybody is down there at the Dream Center because they know it.”
WorkSource Oregon, the Department of Human Services, the Wings of Love and the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center had representatives between the two stationary sites providing services to people who came.