Monday, March 2, 2015

Homeless Census 2015 - Boston

The Give US Your Poor team had the honor of volunteering at the 35th Annual Point-In-Time Count in Boston on February 25th, 2015. This homeless census occurs each year as part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) requirement for communities to conduct counts of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals.

In Boston over 300 volunteers gathered at City Hall at 8:30pm to form into groups and zones. Mayor Walsh spoke to the energized crowd as everyone zipped up their jackets and prepared for the cold. It was such a moving experience to stand there with so many other volunteers all interested in helping the homeless residents of Boston. Our group of 8 was included graduate students, finance big-wigs, and a MBTA (Boston public transportation) transit police officer. It was such a diverse group of people all there for one purpose. Around 9pm we headed underground to canvas our assigned area, the Green and Blue subway stations. At each stop we would get off the subway and walk around the station checking in each elevator, corner, and hallway for individuals that did not have a place to go that night. By the end of the night we found 15 people who had set up camp for the night. We engaged with each one asking for as much information as they felt comfortable providing off the HUD questionnaire. We also asked if they would be interested in transportation to a shelter or hospital depending on their needs. We had a couple takers and others that were content with staying put. Due to the overwhelming winter Boston has had, the MBTA has been particularly understanding by allowing people to stay warm and dry in the stations. Our night ended around 1am. And as the Mayor pointed out before, we were all especially grateful to go home.

If I could describe the night in one word it would be unforgettable. It was a moving experience to engage in conversation with a person that everyone else was blindly walking past. To hear someone’s story really changes your perspective. I urge everyone to sign up to volunteer next year.

The picture includes part of our group and Give US Your Poor's executive director John McGah getting up to speed. 


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