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Schuylkill homeless count scheduled

When folks show up to Thursday’s free community meal at the Perla Building in Tamaqua they’ll be asked this question:

“Where did you sleep on the night of Wednesday, Jan. 25?”

The question is part of the 2023 Unsheltered Point in Time Count, according to Shawn Frankenstein, housing coordinator for Service Access and Management.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires every county in the United States to tally its numbers of “sheltered” and “unsheltered” homeless.

“We are counting the unsheltered in our county. Those are individuals sleeping in places not meant for human habitation - think a car, a tent, a home with no utilities,” he saidw. “We want to count those individuals.”

To do so, outreach teams will canvass the county Wednesday and Thursday in search of those without housing.

And 11 county sites - including Tamaqua - will open their doors on either of those days to provide resources, emergency grocery assistance or information on emergency shelters.

“We want people to come to these sites for assistance,” Frankenstein said. “We are not only looking to contact those that are literally homeless but to see if we can contact people who are almost in that situation. If we can prevent somebody from being homeless, we want to do that.”

The Perla Building, 105 W. Broad St., will be open from 6 - 8 p.m. for the meal and for individuals to receive help.

“We find that inviting people to come to these places where we can talk to them works the best,” Frankenstein said. “We can have conversations as they come. They can get some sort of assistance, and we can have a conversation with them.”

Individuals will receive bags filled with the a county resource guide that directs them to grocery stores, soup kitchens and more; along with brochures for agencies and programs, toiletries, bottled water and food.

The Salvation Army, St. Luke’s, Helping Harvest SNAP Outreach, Servants to All, Stokes Ministry, the Tamaqua Chamber and others will be at the Tamaqua site.

“For Schuylkill County, the PIT is a community effort for not just counting individuals who are experiencing homelessness but to be able to provide support and resources for anyone in need,” said Elaine Gilbert, Administrator of the county’s Mental Health, Developmental Services and Drug & Alcohol Programs.

Schuylkill County’s Service Access Management, county agencies and Servants To All, an organization that works to shelter unhoused people, will reach out to people.

Additional events where folks can seek help will be held Wednesday or Thursday in Frackville, Ashland, Shenandoah, Mahanoy City, Minersville, Orwigsburg, Pottsville and St. Clair.

More information on all sites is available by calling Elaine at 570-628-1791.

Chris Parker contributed to this story.