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Meals, Encouragement Provided To Homeless
PIT Count
riv city

This past week, the City of Riverbank along with staff and volunteers, conducted the annual Homeless Point-In-Time (PIT) Count. According to city staff, the information collected will assist in creating future programs and funding for the homeless within the city.

City of Riverbank Senior Management Analyst Norma Torres-Manriquez explained that there were 10 volunteers for the Riverbank count including councilmembers Darlene Barber-Martinez and Rachel Hernandez and city staff members, City Manager Marisela Garcia and Administrative Assistant Jessica Barragan, along with Manriquez.

The annual count is a requirement from the Housing and Urban Development Department that is planned and carried out locally with their guidelines and tools. Stanislaus County conducted its count on Thursday, Jan. 26. The people that were counted are living in shelters, transitional housing, unsheltered, living outdoors, in parks, abandoned buildings or in vehicles.

“All the homeless residents that we saw were very grateful and appreciated all the donations available for them; we had no negative incidents and all those that joined us for lunch agreed to complete the homeless survey; which by the way was the ultimate goal to have as many complete the survey,” said Manriquez. “We know that we have a homeless population at this time of about 50 to 60 on any given night. Homeless volunteers are out weekly working with the homeless and these volunteers provide us with pretty accurate numbers. During the summer months the number of homeless increases by 20 to 25 percent.”

There is a county application that has the surveys that volunteers download to their phones to report the information to the state so they can tally the final count.

On Thursday morning, the city staff organized a breakfast for the homeless at the Riverbank Scout Hall. They offered guests coffee, juice, donuts, breakfast burritos, and fruit. In addition to breakfast the city staff made a to-go lunch with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, instant cup of soup, and granola bars. Weeks before the event Manriquez expressed that they distributed flyers to the local homeless inviting them to the breakfast.

“We had about 20 homeless residents join us for breakfast at Scout Hall,” added Manriquez. “We also had two teams (of two volunteers) drive around town to the areas where some of our homeless residents tend to hang out. I found it very touching that many of the homeless residents were very shy and they preferred to eat their breakfast outside in the park rather than in the warm building.”

Lending a hand on the day of the count in the areas around the river, canals, and storm drains was the Stanislaus County Probation Department.

Manriquez shared that they counted approximately 20 to 30 homeless in total but they will not have the official count until the county finalizes the report which will probably be in a few months.

Earlier in January the City of Riverbank began collecting items for the local homeless population. They will be collecting items and donations year-round which will be accepted at City Hall North, 6707 Third St., downtown Riverbank. They are accepting items like blankets, tarps, towels, and tents.

“Our community is so giving,” stated Manriquez. “We received coats, sweaters, warm flannel shirts, toiletries, and other useful items. We had enough for those who came and we had several left over which will be distributed by local homeless volunteers. The County provided a giveaway of backpacks that included toiletries, socks, lap blanket, and gloves.”

Deena Fernandez with Cambridge Academy is Riverbank’s homeless outreach liaison and homeless advocate and volunteer Thelma Gibson also assists the local homeless population in Riverbank.

“These ladies are amazing and they have gained the trust of most of the homeless in Riverbank,” remarked Manriquez. “Some might say why put in so much effort for such a small number of homeless residents? Our City Council and staff are committed to providing the best customer service to all our residents. Our steps and processes take time and have to go through the many steps and appropriate approvals but our goal is to complete Sierra House where we will be able to offer more help and services to our homeless residents; completing the PIT count is a key factor in funding.”