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Regional coalition seeks volunteers to help with ‘Unsheltered Point in Time Count’

Eleanor Bennett
Aspen Public Radio
The Schultz Health and Human Services building by Aspen Valley Hospital houses a homeless day center, an overnight shelter, and a detox facility overseen by Recovery Resources, which provides support services in the Roaring Fork Valley and Summit County. Recovery Resources is helping organize a regional effort on Jan. 25 to identify the current number of people who are unhoused in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties.

Government service providers and community groups in Pitkin, Eagle, and Garfield counties are coordinating efforts for the first time next week to better understand the number of people who are unhoused or experiencing homelessness in the area on a single night.

“This count not only helps us to engage individuals who might not be aware of the services and agencies and organizations that can be of support to them, it also helps us look at how many individuals are experiencing homelessness in our community,” said Monica Brutout, the homeless services program manager for Eagle County.

On the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 25, local service providers and volunteers will head out to various locations in the Roaring Fork, Eagle, and Colorado River valleys to identify and talk with people in the community who spent the night without a reliable place to sleep.

The “Unsheltered Point in Time Count” is part of a statewide and national effort to better understand the scope of homelessness across county and state lines — and connect individuals with organizations that provide shelter and other critical assistance.

“Over the last probably year or so, we've tried really hard as a tri-county region to work more collaboratively and come up with solutions that can help develop a system that is equal and works amongst all three counties rather than just one,” Brutout said.

Brutout, who used to work at the Aspen Homeless Shelter, has been collaborating with Catholic Charities in Glenwood Springs and Recovery Resources in Pitkin County on this year’s regional count.

“This is the first year that we've really made this kind of a tangible community event where we're hoping to get volunteers and community members involved,” Brutout said. “We will take as many volunteers as we can possibly get.”

Participants will be collecting a range of information from people, including whether someone has experienced domestic violence as well as more basic demographic data like a person’s age, gender and race.

“By having a better idea and scope of the number of people and those types of demographics, the hope is to bring in more funding and more money to reach some larger goals as a community in how we can help and support these individuals,” Brutout said.

People interested in volunteering can attend an optional Zoom Q&A session on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 9 a.m.

There will also be some training for volunteers on the morning of Jan. 25 before people head out for the count.

Volunteers can email Monica Brutout at monica.brutout@eaglecounty.us or Wendee Schoon with Recovery Resources in Pitkin County at wendee@recoveryresourcescolorado.org to get involved.

Eleanor is an award-winning journalist and Morning Edition anchor. Eleanor has reported on a wide range of topics in her community, including the impacts of federal immigration policies on local DACA recipients, the Valley’s COVID-19 eviction and housing crisis, and hungry goats fighting climate change across the West through targeted grazing. Connecting with people from all walks of life and creating empathic spaces for them to tell their stories fuels her work.