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Counting the homeless: Volunteers will hit the streets for annual Point-in-Time survey

FILE -- Mitch Kilday surveys a member of the homeless community in Phenix City during the 2017 "Point-In- Time" count. The program is an effort to count and survey homeless individuals in the community.
FILE -- Mitch Kilday surveys a member of the homeless community in Phenix City during the 2017 "Point-In- Time" count. The program is an effort to count and survey homeless individuals in the community. Mike Haskey

How many people are homeless in Columbus?

Who are they? And what are the demographics?

Those are some of the questions that will be answered as part of an annual Point-in-Time Count that will be conducted Monday and Tuesday in the community.

The survey, required annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is part of a weeklong focus on homelessness.

It is an annual process that began in 2009 under the direction of the Homeless Resource Network. In recent years, Home for Good, the local United Way agency charged with implementing the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, has coordinated the effort.

“Over the last five years we’ve had a 24 percent decrease in the homeless population in our community, “ said Pat Frey, director of Home for Good at the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley. “We’ve had a 7 percent decrease last year.”

She said drop is significant considering that the homeless population had only dropped by 38 percent over a 10-year period in previous years.

Frey presented the information to Columbus Council at a recent meeting, along with Susan Gallagher of New Horizons Behavioral Health and Kim Taylor of New Horizon’s Path Outreach.

Frey said the Point-in-Time count will begin Monday evening at local shelters. It will continue 5:30 a.m. Tuesday with volunteers counting homeless people at encampments along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk and other areas where homeless people congregate, such as along Second Avenue.

Here’s a list of other events organized for the homeless by New Horizons Behavioral Health, Home for Good, Phenix City Housing Authority, Open Door and other partners:

Wednesday: A Job Fair, 9 a.m. to noon, at Chuck Roberts Activity Center, 100 16th Ave. in Phenix City. Participants should bring a picture ID and Social Security card.

Friday: Project Homeless Connect 2018, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Open Door Community House, 2405 Second Ave. in Columbus. Housing, education, employment, heath care and food resources will be available. A free lunch will be served to the homeless at 12:30 p.m. For more information, call 706-596-5500, ext. 5540.

To volunteer for the Point-in-Time Count, call 706-327-3255, ext. 201.

Alva James-Johnson: 706-571-8521, @amjreporter

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