Point in Time Count in Aberdeen collects homeless data

Annual event connects homeless community with resources, updates homeless tally

The annual Point in Time Count for Grays Harbor was completed on Thursday, Jan. 25 as communities across the country gathered data on varying levels of homelessness.

Local human service groups, led by the Coastal Community Action Program (CCAP), the county’s coordinate entry agency, conducted the count at the Aberdeen Senior Center Thursday during an event also intended to connect the homeless or near-homeless community with supplies and resources.

On one day each January, communities across the country hold the count in an attempt to accurately tally the number of people without shelter in the area, and those data are tied to funding programs later on. The survey is conducted on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Every county and every state in the country should be doing this today,” Cache McCallum, a housing services program manager for CCAP, said at the event on Thursday. “Ours is probably the best,” he joked.

McCallum said CCAP and other human service groups that were at the senior center Thursday already work with many of the people who attend the count.

“I’ve been real happy to see how everybody’s been super kind,” he said. “There’s a lot of folks here that camp kind of far out and away from people and are drawn to this event every year.”

Upon entering the senior center, attendees fill out a form that collects data about how long people have been with or without stable housing, and where they slept the night before.

In 2023, the survey tallied 202 people in Grays Harbor County who were without stable housing, including 110 unsheltered people and 92 living in emergency shelters or transitional housing, according to data from the Washington State Department of Commerce.

McCallum said the 2024 data won’t be available until later this year.

On Thursday — Billy Cleland and Priscilla Simmons waited in line for a haircut — one of the staple services of the event. Longtime Grays Harbor hairdresser Pat Gordon and Laina Caldwell, a former hairdresser who works as a behavioral health navigator for local police departments, gave free trims. Caldwell said something as simple as a haircut can make people “feel good on the outside,” which translates to them feeling good emotionally.

Simmons said it had been since June since she had a haircut. She and Cleland also picked up laundry cards, hats, shirts, flashlights and food supplies. Simmons said she also used the event to seek help for an ankle injury. Along with supplies, attendees also had the chance to connect with health programs, housing assistance or addiction recovery programs.

“I know everybody in this whole building, pretty much,” said Cleland of Westport, who attended the event last year. “They’re the humblest people you could think of.”

Contact reporter Clayton Franke at 406-552-3917 or clayton.franke@thedailyworld.co