United Way surveys homeless population in Columbus, Phenix City
COLUMBUS, GA/PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) - The size of the Columbus-Phenix City area homeless population varies depending on who you ask.
So the United Way, through the Home for Good program, is trying to put an actual number to those who are homeless.
Count yourself lucky if you have a warm home to live, because there are people in Columbus and Phenix City who don't.
Each year the United Way fans out across the two cities to find out just how many homeless are out there, because they believe every one counts.
On a cool, dark morning along Front Avenue in Columbus, volunteers in groups of three head out with flashlights, clipboards stacked with surveys, and care packages seeking out the homeless who may be sleeping outside. They are escorted by police for safety.
The goal is to count those experiencing homelessness to better understand the magnitude of the problem and what can be done to help.
"So this is an opportunity to find out what people need and then through Home for Good and all the other agencies that are working on this collaborative effort, we hope to get those people the services they need and into housing if they want it. Not everybody wants help," said Scott Ferguson, President and CEO of the United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley.
The count started Tuesday and ended Wednesday, making this their fourth year doing it.
Not only are volunteers counting those who sleep outside or under bridges, they're also counting people in shelters who have no home.
Ferguson says the number of homeless people was down 20 percent last year, and he's hoping it's even lower this year.
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