Over 80 volunteers and staff will be hitting the streets this week in Chatham-Kent trying to get an idea how many homeless people are in the area.

The municipality is participating in Ontario’s homeless enumeration, the first province-wide count of its kind in Canada.

Chatham-Kent joined the 20,000 Homes Campaign and is completing a Registry Week enumeration event.

“Ending homelessness is not easy, but the 20,000 Homes research tells us it is possible,” says Chantal Perry, Program Manager with Employment and Social Services. “The first step is knowing, by name, who in our community is homeless, and what their specific needs are. Once we know who is homeless, we can help them find housing.”

It is an intense activity based on a simple idea: communities should get to know every homeless person by name by going onto the streets to find them and assess their needs and vulnerability.

A Registry Week is not only a count but a way of understanding who the people who are homeless really are, what their lives are like and how vulnerable they are.

Survey sites include known areas with unsheltered individuals, within agencies that provide services to homeless populations, health centres, and food banks and meal programs across the municipality.

Due to the rural geography of Chatham-Kent, a dedicated phone line has also been established for those that may not be able to access a registry location.

People who are experiencing homelessness can complete a survey by calling 519-351-1228 ext.2052 on Tuesday and Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The goal is to house the most vulnerable homeless in the community by July 2020.

Community level results, and non-identifying data, from the Registry Week will be made publically available and will be shared with the community at a Registry Week Information Session on May 16, 2018.

Chatham-Kent’s Registry Week activities are funded through The Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative and has received funding support from the Ontario Ministry of Housing.