Each year, Breaking Ground partners with the New York City Department of Homeless Services to conduct the HOPE (or Homeless Outreach Population Estimate) survey in Midtown Manhattan. Along with thousands of volunteers citywide, more than 100 volunteers joined us at our Times Square resident to canvass the streets.
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
We gathered at 11pm for a welcome from Breaking Ground's CEO, Brenda Rosen, and to watch a short training video. Then our site captain went through the survey procedures, reminding everyone to follow their maps, attempt to conduct the survey with everyone they come across (except city or construction workers), and how to engage with people who might be experiencing homelessness.
Armed with the surveys, phone numbers for site captains and transport vans, and maps, volunteers split into teams to meet the Team Leaders and each other. After a short huddle with the maps and surveys, teams headed out into the night.
On the street, we came across people going to work, getting off work, heading home, collecting cans and bottles, decoys hired by the city to ensure the integrity of the count, people who were homeless and awake, and people who were homeless and bundled up under blankets and sleeping bags. As it wasn't quite cold enough for a Code Blue (when the temperature dips below 32 degrees and there is a concerted effort to get everyone to come inside), we were not to wake people who were asleep, just ensure that they were counted as street homeless.
After each team had walked the designated map area only once, and conducted surveys with people along the way, they returned to the Times Square where the final paperwork was completed, tallied, and submitted to DHS for data analysis.
This valuable information will help the City, Breaking Ground and our partners in the human services sector determine how best to allocate resources to meet the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness on the streets.
Thank you to our volunteers who showed up to ensure that everybody counts.