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The PIT count

Jan 10, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

The objective is to enumerate the homeless in Fremont County

Winter is a poignant time to count the homeless. At no other time of year is their plight more difficult, their need more great, their crisis more stressful.

Later this month cooperating government agencies, church groups and others will be working on a point-in-time count, or PIT count, intended to establish an accurate figure for how many people in Fremont County are homeless.

There is no easy or convenient way to count the homeless. Generally speaking this is not a stand-up-and-be-counted group. They can be hard to find, their circumstances hard to ascertain and, often enough, the accuracy of their statements hard to verify.

So, doing it right takes some effort. The more help the organizers of the PIT count can get, the better -- not just for them, but for the homeless people themselves, who stand to benefit from public and private assistance efforts that will be based in large part on the results of the PIT count.

Two agencies, one federal and one local, are leading the PIT project. First Stop Help Center in Lander has the lead role for Fremont County. Planners there know that the only way to get an accurate and comprehensive head count of the homeless is if enough supporters can be found to help with PIT.

Churches and service clubs are frequent PIT helpers, but schools and school clubs, businesses, other government agencies and, of course, private citizens also can provide important assistance.

If you'd like to help, or simply want to learn more, contact First Stop Help Center at 332-2877 or e-mail at firststophelpcenter@gmail.com.

Opinions vary on what to "do about" the homeless in America. But whether you favor an education-based solution, a charitable solution, a faith-based solution or a government-based solution, all can agree that having an accurate count of the homeless population is the best starting point for whatever comes next.

How many homeless are there in Fremont County? No one can say with high certainty, but a more general answer is this: More than you think. The PIT census of the homeless aims to find out -- and it could use your help in doing so.

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