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Volunteers hit Maricopa County streets to measure homelessness

Posted at 4:42 AM, Jan 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-22 07:58:37-05

PHOENIX — On Tuesday morning, hundreds of volunteers across Maricopa County hit the streets to find out exactly how many people were living on them.

The annual "Point-in-Time Homeless Street Count" is organized by the Maricopa Association of Governments as a way to uncover how severe the problem is and to see what resources are available to fix it.

“The volunteers team up to walk through neighborhoods, especially those known as places where people experiencing homelessness are most often found, and interview them about their situation,” said Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney, chair of the MAG Regional Council in a statement. “The count is the most accurate means we have for determining how many people need resources and what kinds of services are most effective.”

Volunteers will utilize new tools this year, like a mobile app.

“Capturing the information electronically means we can better map where homelessness is occurring,” said Tempe Police Sgt. Rob Ferraro, also co-chair of the Continuum of Care, in a statement. “It can be used with other data to prioritize resources to make the most of the dollars provided through federal funding each year.”

Last year, the count uncovered a large rise in the number of people experiencing homelessness. The data stated that roughly 6,300 people did not have a place to call home. That was a 12 percent increase from 2017.

They hope that the trend does not continue with this latest count on Tuesday.