An FSCJ student explains why she participates in Lee County PIT calculation



How many homeless people live in Lee County? Currently, the Lee County Homeless Coalition is aiming to find the cause.

It’s part of a nationwide mission and it takes place over the last ten days of January every year. WINK News investigative reporter Celine McArthur tells you how it was done in Lee County, where the information came from, and what happened to that data.

The job of the PIT counter, or time counter, is to keep track of all the homeless – inside and outside the shelter – to find out the severity of the current problems and why. .

The Feds then use that data to determine how much federal money local programs can receive in the future. Counting holes is an important job that requires a lot of volunteers, including students at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Crystal Jean, 24, is a freshman in the social work program at FGCU. She said she knew since she was a child she wanted to be a social worker.

THAN: Click here for news on the Homeless series at work

“I had a social worker as a child, and she really made a huge impact on me as a child. And I didn’t realize that she was a social worker. But I knew I wanted to do what she did. Jean said.

The issue of homelessness is also a personal one. She recently discovered her father has become homeless.

“I was shocked. I was shocked,” Jean said. “I don’t know… you can’t tell.” She told us he was homeless in another part of Florida, and, he came here with our family, and we didn’t realize all of the situation that was going on at the time.”

But she knew what needed to happen next.

“They are ordinary people who need help, need to be loved and need to be served,” says Jean.

Professor Tom Felke says homelessness in Southwest Florida is getting worse.

“I think the other thing that concerns me is that I worry about what the public reaction to visible homelessness will be,” Felke said. “People often don’t want to see things that make them uncomfortable. I mean, that makes sense. But in this case, this is not something you can retreat into the dark. This is something that really needs to be addressed.”

That made Jean wonder.

“I think our public servants are not doing enough,” says Jean. “For example, if someone is convicted of a felony, what do we do to provide resources for these people to reintegrate into society? And so that they have the right literacy skills? For a job or for housing services? ”

She hit the road as a volunteer in the annual Lee County PIT to learn more. As of this morning, there were not many homeless people in her designated area, which surrounds the Downtown Fort Myers public library.

“I’m a bit sad about that. I really am, because I really want to, you know, talk to some people and you know, know their stories,” Jean said.

We caught up with Fort Myers police officer Ryan Beiner of the Homeless Outreach Team to find out why.

“It depends on the weather. It depends on the day,” Beiner Police said. “People are moving around a lot lately, going to new places, due to enforcement measures.”

Jean spent some time with Officer Beiner to get a snapshot of how he works with the homeless.

“Going back to the places where some of these people sleep… it’s hard not to cry because it’s just… I didn’t know that was the kind of condition some of these people actually had, like this one. their everyday things. life,

It was brief, but it was a career experience she would soon forget.

“He really has experience in this field, what I am looking for, he has been doing for many years. And just to see that we have employees who are really trying to help our community,” Jean said. “He was a social worker in disguise as an officer.”

Count Lee’s PIT calculation lasts for three days and the results won’t be available until at least April.

Once we get the data, we’ll share it online and right here on

You can also weigh in in this conversation. Email [email protected]

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