by Cory Storch
Today is the national Point in Time (PIT) count of people experiencing homelessness. I joined the Plainfield overnight count, beginning at 3 AM, when it is (in theory) less difficult to locate people living on the streets, in abandoned buildings and in parks – because they are asleep (not mobile) in the hours before dawn.
I entered the Union County Division of Social Services office to find 20 volunteers – Plainfield police officers, Sheriffs officers, county employees and volunteers from the non profit community. Since I brought a Bridgeway mini-van, I was put in charge of one volunteer group. We found one homeless person, the lowest number of people in the 10 years I have been a PIT volunteer. That sounds like good news although we were told that Union County had called a code blue two nights before.
Code blue occurs when the temperatures drop and homeless people are more vulnerable to the elements. The police look for homeless people and offer them shelter beds. The Union County shelters expand their bed capacity on code blue nights and this recent code blue saw more people using shelter beds. Many are still there. So this morning there are fewer “street” homeless than usual.
The person we found was sleeping at a street corner across from city hall. We offered to take him back to the county office to warm up and get some hot food. He declined. As we listened to his story, we realized that he was experiencing serious medical problems that sounded like diabetes and possibly cancer, with a co-occurring mental health condition. We called an ambulance which arrived quickly and he said “God bless” to us as they drove him away, to Trinitas Medical Center.
After two hours ,we reconvened at the county office and learned that one of the other volunteer groups had also come back to report finding one homeless person, also with medical issues, who was transported to a local hospital.
The Point in Time count continues during the day, with activities at the Salvation Army shelter in Elizabeth, the Plainfield shelter at the YMCA and a social services fair at the Plainfield Salvation Army.
admin January 24th, 2018
Posted In: Uncategorized