On Monday, February 9, 2015, members of my Statistics class and I participated in the HOPE Count Survey (https://a071-hope.nyc.gov/HOPE/welcome.aspx), which is an annual event aided by the NYC Department of Homeless Services. The point of the survey is to find out how many people are homeless in different areas of the city so they know the most beneficial places to build shelters. At around 11:00 p.m., volunteers gathered at PS41 to start training. At 12:15 a.m., we split up into small groups and started the survey. Statistics class has taught me all of the important aspects that are needed to find accurate results and avoid miscalculations when recording data. To make sure that the volunteers were truly surveying every single person they walked by, decoys were sent to our areas and acted like normal pedestrians. My group did not find one decoy, which makes me wonder if we truly did survey everyone we passed. Not only did I learn more about taking data for a statistics project, but I also learned about the importance of caring for those who are not fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads every night.
I pass by people without a home almost every day, but I never had such personal encounters until I participated in the survey. Although no homeless people wanted to go to a shelter that night, many of them expressed their gratitude because of our service as well as those who were fortunate to have a home. Not only did I learn more about counting data for statistics, but I helped the city with a large problem that we need to fix as soon as possible.
Statistics are important to the real world because they enable us to assess problems in a mathematical and logical way. In the HOPE count, statistics were essential for analyzing and interpreting the data we picked on Monday night. With the information we collected, the government can make decisions on how much money/resources need to be allocated to homeless problem in New York City.
Before the HOPE count, I was quite naive about shelters. I knew of their existence; however, I did not think they were used very much by the homeless. On Monday, my group encountered very few homeless, and I came to learn that the area we were in had two shelters. Furthermore, some of the people we met were already on their way to a shelter or planning to go. Shelters are integral for helping New York City’s homeless and should received investment from the government.
Hope Count Website:
On February 9th, I along with several of my classmates participated in the HOPE Count. Each year, the NYC Department of Homeless Services conducts its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE), in order to get an accurate estimate of the number of unsheltered homeless living in NYC. The HOPE Count is held during the winter in order to get an idea of the number of homeless who do not have a place to sleep for the night even on one of the coldest nights of the year. After an hour long training at PS41, various groups were assigned districts throughout lower Manhattan. The survey relies on volunteers asking every person they encounter whether or not they had a place to sleep that night. My group consisted of myself, Ben Frisch, Philippe Noisy, and Liam Cook, and we had a total of five districts to survey, including a subway station. After hours of scouring the streets and asking dozens of people questions, our group ended up with the highest number of reported homeless. Statistics is very important in a project such as this because the NYC Department of Homeless Services is reliant on the data that we accumulate throughout the night. We provide them with a statistic that allows them to paint a picture of homelessness in the city.
In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, lawyer Atticus Finch imparts wise words to his daughter, Scout, saying, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”. Homelessness often feels like a myth. People know that there are people without a home, but I feel that not many people are aware of how much of a problem homelessness really is. After doing the HOPE Count, I was confronted with homelessness face to face. I met various homeless people throughout the night and had to ask them several questions, some quite personal. To be honest, it was kind of depressing. However, the biggest takeaway is knowing that I was able to help the city and its efforts to help homeless people. There was also the option for a van to come and pick up any homeless person we encountered and bring them to a shelter (although none I encountered accepted this offer). I believe that we all need to become more aware about homelessness in the city and what we can do to help those in need, especially since homelessness is on the rise.
The HOPE (https://a071-hope.nyc.gov/HOPE/welcome.aspx) count is an event that happens one day a year each year in order to really understand how many people are properly living on the streets. It works in correlation with the Department of Homeless services so as they can get an idea of how many people need to be helped out. After an hour long training at PS41, the count starts at midnight. In order to get the numbers right, groups have to meticulously ask everyone they see if they have a place to stay that night. Groups have to be especially strict as the whole survey relies on the volunteers’ work.
The HOPE survey was an incredible experience because it really made you see the amount of people that were properly living on the street as well as miserable the conditions were. The experience was made by the fact that we were interacting with real people on the street as oppose to looking at numbers on a screen. Although the count provides the city with priceless information, it is interacting with the people on the street that really made the experience valuable, and real. It felt like real, hardcore service work that was really helping not only the city out but also the people who lived on the street.