15 USF CERT members participated in this year's Tampa-Hillsborough Homeless Initiative Point In Time (PIT) Homeless Count. This yearly county-wide event's goal is to survey the number of homeless and home-free individuals, to better allocate resources for sheltering and assistance.
CERT-affiliated volunteers were deployed to locations within the county, including the Downtown Tampa, University, and Brandon areas, to actively search for and engage with homeless individuals to participate in the important survey. Individuals received items important for survival on the streets in turn for their participation in the survey.
USF CERT Officers Anthony Woodson, Jordan Snead, and Jay Rajyaguru deployed to Downtown Tampa as volunteers for the count, and were paired with an experienced team leader to complete the count, under the supervision of THHI staff and the Tampa Police Department. As representatives of USF's College of Public Health, USF Health Media reporter Vjollca Hysenlika joined them to capture this team in action. See Vjollca's story here.
"It was an eye opening experience and I wish more USF students would get involved," said Jordan Snead.
Program Director Elizabeth Dunn also participated in an earlier shift in the University area with other USF CERT volunteers and College of Public Health students. As a faculty member in USF's Global Disaster Management, Humanitarian Relief & Homeland Security program, she is working on a research component of this project to identify the effects of homelessness during disasters.
"This kind of boots-on-the-ground volunteering is a big part of CERT. We're here to engage with the community in both times of disaster and in everyday functions. Whatever we can do to help, we'll be there."
- Director of Media & Communications, Jay Rajyaguru.
See the Tampa Bay Times' article on the Homeless Count here.