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Cape Cod Prepares for Annual Point-in-Time Homeless Count

Organizers Looking for Volunteers to Assist in Effort

Barnstable County is looking for volunteers to assist with the annual point-in-time homeless count. Those interested in doing so can contact Elizabeth Albert, Director of the Barnstable County Department of Human Services, at or 508-375-6626.

A training session for those taking part in the January 28th point-in-time count is on January 26th from 3 to 4:30 pm at the Innovation Room in the Open Cape Building on the Barnstable County Campus at 3195 Main Street in Barnstable.

How many homeless people are living on Cape Cod? It’s a question that human service professionals will attempt to answer on Wednesday, January 28 as part of the annual point-in-time count.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) dedicates the last week in January to the count which is done across the nation to get an accurate sense of the homeless population. HUD uses those figures to best determine how to allocate funds to help address homelessness in America.

At the local level, this year’s count will see several changes starting with Barnstable County Department of Human Services overseeing its implementation, taking over that responsibility from the Community Action Committee of Cape Cod & the Islands. Assisting the County in its planning efforts are consultants Paula Schnepp, Coordinator for the Cape & Islands Regional Network to Address Homelessness, and Dr. Lee Hamilton, an adjunct professor of sociology at Cape Cod Community College.

The count identifies homeless people who are staying at shelters on Cape Cod, including those in motels paid for by the state, as well as those who are unsheltered and staying on the streets, in a vehicle, an abandoned building, the woods, a park or elsewhere.

Last year’s count saw the number of homeless people decrease on Cape Cod from 514 in 2013 to 375 in 2014. The number of unsheltered individuals decreased in Barnstable County from 67 to 48 and on Martha’s Vineyard, the number decreased from 119 to 29. There were no reported homeless people living on Nantucket.

The County will combine the point-in-time count with the unaccompanied homeless youth survey. Last year was the first time the survey was done to identify how many homeless youth (those under the age of 24) there are in the state.

Earlier this month, organizers met with those who will be lending their expertise to the January count. Tammy Schenk, a homeless outreach worker with Vinfen, said she is seeing more homeless families and kids, including an increase in those living in cars, on Cape Cod.

Dr. Hamilton noted it is often difficult to determine whether someone is homeless. And for those who are homeless, she said, it is easy to hide that fact.

Though the count is not a perfect science – it is unable to pinpoint all who are homeless such as couch surfers – organizers are hoping to involve as many human service providers as possible to be as accurate as possible. To that end, the County plans on working with local police departments to tap into their knowledge of the homeless population they work with in the communities they serve.

If you are interested in volunteering with this year’s point-in-time count, please contact Elizabeth Albert, Director of the Barnstable County Department of Human Services, at or 508-375-6626.