LCS Northwest’s Arlington Community Resource Center (ACRC) played a central role in helping to count the Snohomish County homeless population and connecting them with resources.
For the first time, groups including LCS Northwest organized a North County Resource Fair which was part of Snohomish County’s Point In Time (PIT) count of homeless people. The resource fair drew 206 people, and organizers plan to make it an annual event. The Snohomish County homeless count was 481 for PIT, which was Thursday, Jan. 28.
“This is a great turnout, even with the rain,” said ACRC Program Manager Seanna Herring-Jensen. “We were worried people wouldn’t be able to come.”
The Resource Fair was held at Smokey Point Community Church. Despite the weather, the event drew more homeless people than last year’s count of 27 for the same area of Camano Island, Stanwood, Darrington, Arlington, Tulalip, Lakewood, Marysville and Granite Falls.
Doors opened at 8 a.m., with a small but steady flow of people. From young twenty-somethings to older veterans, the gymnasium quickly filled with homeless individuals. Volunteers in neon yellow hats warmly welcomed people and asked if they needed anything.
Tables and booths set up around the church gymnasium were decorated with bright table cloths, balloons and centerpieces shaped like stars with simple, heartfelt phrases like “You Matter.” The section of pet food and treats underneath a basketball hoop had a steady flow of visitors. Everett Community College students neatly clipped and shampooed every person in their chairs. People were also able to sign up for health care, speak with officials about veteran’s benefits, and pick up coats, socks and warm clothing.
Visitors continued to arrive later in the day, bringing along children, pets and personal belongings. With live music, coffee and resource booths staffed by community partners, the event proved a successful collaboration between the ACRC and Housing Hope.
Considering this is the first time the ACRC has participated in the PIT Count, Herring-Jensen was both surprised and looking forward to expanding the resource fair next year.
“With the help of over 200 volunteers we counted 206 homeless. We blew out all the other regions, capturing almost half in North County,” she said. “Next year I’d love to be able to hand out bus passes, and have even more community partners get involved so we can reach more people.”