This week, more than 70 local volunteers will span the Chattahoochee Valley in an effort to count and identify the homeless population in Columbus and Phenix City.
The effort will begin Tuesday night as those who sleep in the city’s homeless shelters are counted and will continue early Wednesday morning as volunteers move into the camps and other areas homeless are known to frequent, said Home for Good Executive Director Pat Frey.
This is an annual process that began in 2009 under the direction of the Homeless Resource Network. Two years ago, Home for Good, the local United Way agency charged with implementing the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, coordinated the effort.
The count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development every two years, but Columbus does it annually. The data is also required by the Georgia Department of Community Services, Frey said.
“One of the things we are excited about is we have a full team working in Phenix City this year,” she said on Monday. “It is people who live or work in Phenix City, so we think that should help our count in Phenix City and Russell County.”
As part of the volunteer effort, students from Columbus State University and Troy University will participate in the process.
The number of chronically homeless people in Columbus fell from 2015 to 2016, according to a snapshot count conducted last year by Home for Good.
The survey of shelters, camps and programs that assist the homeless was conducted Jan. 24 and 25, 2016.
There were 303 homeless residents — 217 who slept in shelters and another 86 who slept outside. The numbers are reported to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In January 2015, there were 371 homeless people reported to HUD. Those records show that 206 slept in shelters and 165 slept outside.