The Point in Time count, the annual census and survey of homeless persons and families required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, launched around the country Wednesday. The Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness began gathering results for Washington, D.C., though final numbers will not be released until April.

D.C. Department of Human Services Public Information Officer Dora Taylor explained the logistics of the count.

“[Point in Time] involves counting everyone who is what HUD calls ‘literally homeless,’ meaning that they are residing in emergency shelters, transitional housing facilities, or are unsheltered,” Taylor said. “Key demographic areas that outreach staff and volunteers are trained to prioritize collecting in their engagements with homeless persons are … [people with] chronic homeless status … homeless veterans … [and] homeless youth.”

In 2014, homelessness in D.C. totaled 7,748 people, a 13 percent increase from 2013 and a total representing 1.2 percent of the population. There were 3,953 single homeless people and 3,975 homeless people in families, inclduing 2,236 children.

Taylor said that the city could not release any numbers until April. The Winter Plan released by the Interagency Council on Homelessness in September predicted a 16 percent increase in homeless families this winter. The city has faced issues with its emergency housing capacity in the cold, with D.C. General, the District’s largest homeless shelter, running out of space in January.

D.C. Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) said his primary concern for this year’s census is determining the amount of homeless students in the city.

“I’m particularly concerned about the students that are homeless, we have over 1800 students that are homeless in the District of Columbia attending the schools,” Grosso said.

He added that he hopes to prioritize helping homeless students throughout the upcoming year.

“So what are we doing to provide them the proper services they need both from finding them a home to mental health services and other things? Hopefully we can move forward and prioritize this in the next year and make it so that there are fewer homeless in the District of Columbia,” he said.

Mayor Muriel Bowser has made the issue a cornerstone of her administration, focusing on improving permanent housing to lower the stress of shelters and decrease the homeless population.

Georgetown students involved with Homeless Outreach Programs and Education devote their time to the cause, including volunteering at soup kitchens and making scarves for the homeless.

HOPE Advocacy and Awareness Co-Coordinator Gianna Maita (COL ’15) spoke about the variety of student commitment to the cause.

“Students in HOPE do many different outreach programs that are service-based and involve providing conversation, food … to people experiencing homelessness. The most important thing … is that Georgetown students make it clear that folks who are unhoused still deserve to have their dignity recognized by our city and our society,” Maita said.

HOPE volunteer Czarina Ramos (COL ’16) echoed Maita, saying that homelessness is an important issue for Georgetown students to engage with.

“As students, it’s very accessible to tune into information about housing policy and demographics and the big numbers. Getting in touch with people experiencing homelessness and listening to what they have to say is a little bit tougher,” Ramos said. “We hope to build a culture on campus where homelessness isn’t some negative character trait, and is instead simply a living situation.”

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