Point in Time count puts a number on how many people are homeless

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- A group of 20 volunteers headed out Wednesday night to count the number of homeless people in and around Eau Claire - and also offer them help.

It is called the Point in Time count and happens twice each year in both January and July.

Last year at this time volunteers counted 81 people who said they were homeless.

"I'm constantly surprised myself," said Rachel Keniston, Executive Director of The Community Table in Eau Claire.

She sees homeless people every day and is still shocked by how many people need help. She says the Point in Count allows us to measure need with a number.

"The point of time is done for Housing and Urban Development for the federal government.

On Wednesday, volunteers combed parking lots, parking ramps, anywhere somebody might try and sleep.

"It gives us an idea, an awareness, there are people who need help in the community," she added.

And that is the other component. Finding out how to help.

"We have some hygiene kits, blankets, hats, jackets especially jackets for kids," said Dan Robinson, Director of the Sojourner House in Eau Claire.

He says that is the idea behind a chili feed Wednesday night at The Community Table. It's not only to bring awareness to the Point in Time count but to provide direction. There is a job booth, nursing students who help answer health questions, flu shots and essential supplies to help people make it through the day.

Robinson says they are still looking for more help, too. Volunteers and financial help to keep the buildings warm and the lights on.

"It's a community of itself, and it's a very rich community that cares for one another, and we need to care for them too," Robinson added.

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