Thousands of volunteers braved the cold February streets on the night of Monday, February 8 to join the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) for the 11th annual HOPE Count—a night in New York City when volunteers survey streets, subways and other public spaces to get a point-in-time survey of the number of homeless individuals living unsheltered.
Over 3,000 volunteers were slated to participate this year and while the turnout was not as high as expected, due to a Winter Storm Jonas-related rescheduling conflict, the night was still successful in providing a snapshot of the chronically homeless throughout the five boroughs.
“I think the turnout was a little lower than was hoped for, simply because they had to reschedule based on snow, but here in Bay Ridge it was decent,” said local activist Liam McCabe, founder of the Willie McCabe Memorial Run and a team leader on the night of the HOPE Count. “What the HOPE organizers were able to do was split some groups up and double up on zones – which meant that we probably stayed out longer than we might have before to accomplish the count.
“The overall concept is a very good one,” he continued. “I’ve seen a lot of criticism, [but] this is a statistical sampling, it’s not an actual overall count. But, for what it’s worth, it’s a pretty damn good sample.”
Elected officials throughout Brooklyn and New York City chimed in as well, praising DHS and the HOPE count as an innovative strategy for tackling the issue of homelessness in the city.
“We are using every tool, including the HOPE count, to fulfill our moral obligation to help our brothers and sisters living on our streets by giving them the shelter and resources they need,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We thank the thousands of New Yorkers participating with us on this mission.”
“I am ecstatic to see that New Yorkers answered the HOPE 2016 call for volunteers,” added Councilmember Vincent Gentile. “With 3,000 registrants, this year’s annual street count will have a profound impact on the city’s outreach efforts.”
According to the HOPE Count’s website, New York City has been nationally recognized for its efforts in addressing the issue of homelessness. The annual HOPE Count has allowed DHS to understand better where these individuals are living throughout the city, to determine which resources are needed in which specific areas, and find out how effective the outreach services have been throughout the five boroughs.