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Volunteers counting homeless population in Tempe

Posted at 5:01 AM, Jan 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 12:17:37-05

Hundreds of volunteers across the Valley are searching alleys, parks and riverbeds Tuesday morning trying to get an accurate count of the number of people experiencing homelessness. 

The "point in time" homeless street count is a snapshot of the number of homeless men, women and children on the streets. 

The numbers help city and state leaders lobby for funding for resources.

By having one-on-one conversations, volunteers hear individual stories that also help craft what kinds of programs are needed to help save people on the brink of homelessness. 

The event also helps police get a rapport going in a setting that's not built around busting the homeless for crimes or throwing them out of camps. 

Last year, the overall numbers went down, but the number of families living on the street went up. As a result, federal funding just increased last month for Maricopa County to $25.8 billion for 41 local homeless programs.