This month, Waynesville’s task force on homelessness is taking its efforts up a notch.
That’s when surveys of both those who are unsheltered and community residents will start.
The data collection will happen in three parts, said Amy Murphy-Nugen, the task force facilitator.
The first two parts will take place as a survey hosted by WCU that can be taken online. Residents who prefer can receive a hard copy of the survey or can take the survey through an interview by three task force members who have been specifically trained.
There is a survey for those who are homeless that takes around 30 to 45 minutes and asks a variety of questions on how long the person has been homeless, whether this is a first- time or a repeat episode, what caused the situation and other related questions.
The task force is hoping to get the survey out to at least 80 individuals who are homeless, Murphy-Nugen said. While the survey is only open to people who are homeless, the definition is not so strict that individuals must be living on the street, she added.
The second survey is a survey for the community and takes around 20 to 30 minutes. This survey asks a variety of questions ranging from why individuals think people become homeless to overall attitudes toward the homeless population and the survey-taker’s willingness to help them.
This survey is also open to homeless people who have already taken the first survey, as they are also a part of the community, she said.
The task force is hoping to reach 500 people within the community to participate in this survey.
An incentive of a care package valued up to $20 is available for homeless individuals who participate in the survey process.
The survey can be found at https://wcu.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2nLtYSX8Hj8t9Rk or through a QR code.
The last part of data collection will happen through listening sessions. The task force is hoping to reach out to eight to 10 individuals for this part. One community listening session has already happened.
The second listening session will showcase in-depth stories from people who have significantly experienced homelessness. By doing this, the task force is hoping to glean a more in-depth reason of the causes behind homelessness and what the community can do to help.
The Waynesville Homelessness Task Force was established in December 2019, but got off to a rocky start as the task force composition was hammered out by the town council and then meetings were disrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think [now] the task force is going well and is upholding the ideals we were created for and staying to the timeline we created to get things done on our homeless itinerary,” said Murphy-Nugen. “We involved a number of community members throughout the fall and are hoping to continue on with that support.”
“The pandemic has created a difficult time for the unsheltered in the community, she said.
“I’m grateful to the task force for being committed to the process, engaging in meetings and workgroups, and getting change out to the community. I couldn’t do this without them,” she said, later adding, “I hope the community will notice the efforts the task force put in to help the homeless population of Waynesville and can see the outcome of our hard work.”
The main goals of the task force are to:
1. Research the demographic of persons who are homeless in Waynesville and the cause of their homelessness.
2. Examine stigmatization, criminalization, discrimination associated with homelessness.
3. Conduct a gap analysis to identify needs, existing community capacity, and additional resources necessary to prevent and respond to temporary and chronic homelessness.
4. Developing a collaborative community action plan to fill system caps and improve existing programs.
To reach this goal the task force is broken up into workgroups that work together:
- Economic Stability
- Community/Social Connections
- Eviction/Foreclosure/Prices response, Winter preparation
The task force holds meetings every first Thursday of the month and that are open to the public. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org