Homeless PIT Count resumes this year, with precautions

HOME: An arrangement of umbrellas on a bench along Route 16 in Harmon is home to a woman. Hundreds of island residents remain without homes. While efforts to increase shelter space and rental assistance during the pandemic continue - there is much more work to be done. Post file photo

After skipping last year, the Guam Homeless Point-in-Time Count is scheduled to take place Jan. 27 and 28, according to Margaret Hattori-Uchima of the Guam Homeless Coalition.

"It's a little bit of a difficult process because (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) is requiring it this year despite the pandemic," Hattori-Uchima said during a meeting Thursday of the Interagency Council for Coordinating Homelessness Programs, adding that she has been working with an official from the Department of Public Health and Social Services to develop a safety protocol.

"But we really need to do the count, that's why we spread it over two days. Because there's no way we can do it safely in one day," Hattori-Uchima said.

The 2020 PIT Count found fewer unsheltered homeless persons on Guam that year, but it was conducted in January 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect people's lives on Guam. 

Hattori-Uchima said volunteers for the count this year are limited to the Homeless Coalition organizations. 

"We can't have mixed teams. We really want people that work together to be in the same team. ... And then we have a lot of nursing, social work and health science students, and also students from (Guam Community College's) medical assistant program because all of those individuals are already fit tested; they're vaccinated and we're requiring an initial health screening in order to allow anyone to volunteer this year," Hattori-Uchima said, adding that the upcoming count is causing a lot of anxiety for some because they don't take safety issues lightly, but they still have an obligation to conduct the count. 

Volunteers will be fit tested for N-95 masks, as that mask is recommended by HUD, and will be tested for COVID-19 the week before the count, according to Hattori-Uchima. 

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