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Washington state's point-in-time homelessness count is today

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The annual point-in-time count to measure homelessness in Walla Walla County and Washington state starts today.

Survey locations will offer free meals with other complimentary health and wellness services. Hand-warmers will also be given to those who complete the survey.

The Walla Walla County Department of Community Health is responsible for the annual population survey required for every county in the state through the Homeless Housing and Assistance Act.

The numbers will also be used when applying for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to a news release from Community Health.

Today’s survey location is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 323 Catherine St. The free meal begins at 11 a.m. and goes until 1 p.m. A nurse is at the site today from Community Health to administer vaccines, various health screenings and health education.

Also on hand, today only, is a representative from Blue Mountain Heart to Heart who will offer a clean needle exchange, various health tests and health education.

On Friday, the survey site will be in two places, starting with the city’s Sleep Center at 1181 W. Rees Ave. Free breakfast burritos and hand-warmers will be available from 8-10 a.m.

Another free lunch for survey participants will be from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday at New Beginnings Chapel, 822 W. Main St. The county nurse will offer services there as well.

The official date of the count is today, but survey collection may continue up to 10 days following today, according to the release.

Community Health staff members and volunteers will be on hand, and they strongly encourage community members to direct anybody they know who is homeless — whether they are currently sheltered or not — to complete the survey.

According to the release, these findings “ultimately help communities and the federal government better understand the nature and extent of homelessness nationwide and inform local strategic planning, capacity building and advocacy campaigns to make homelessness a rare, brief and one-time experience in Walla Walla County.”

Survey takers can make arrangements with Community Health to have their surveys picked up Monday. Another round of survey pick-ups will happen Feb. 3, which is the cut-off date for the survey.