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Make a point to help the Point- In-Time Count

How can you help people when you don’t know they exist?

That’s a problem facing officials who deal with, or want to deal with, homelessness in Marquette County.

However, the annual Point-in-Time Count, required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, should help remedy that situation since its purpose is to find out how many people in Michigan are homeless. That count will be conducted Jan. 29.

Brent Clark, a member of the state’s interagency Emergency Housing Council and director of the nonprofit Janzen House in Marquette, which provides transitional housing for low-income and homeless individuals, believes knowing the number of people who are homeless is problematic.

For example, a “couch surfer” is a term used for people who don’t have a permanent home and rely on friends and family for a place to stay overnight. They might have a roof over their heads, but you can’t really call them residentially secure.

Sometimes people couch surf when they’re between permanent places to live, but some rely on the generosity of others in this way so they don’t have to sleep on the street.

Unfortunately, many people are on the street, regardless of weather, and those who do find temporary shelter with friends or family as a couch surfer must have a steady feeling of insecurity. They also might feel guilty they’re imposing on people.

Clark wants to know who these homeless people are, and is asking the public to report them, which can be handled anonymously.

Individuals seeking more information may call the Room at the Inn Warming Center at 906-225-1521 and ask to speak to a social worker. They also may leave a message at the Janzen House at 906-226-2271.

Clark acknowledged that knowing how many households are helping people without the proper access to professional resources can help those who need them.

We hope people cooperate in this initiative. As we indicated at the beginning of this editorial, it’s hard to help people when you don’t know who they are or their situation.