Volunteers brave bitter temperatures to count Louisville's homelessness

Updated: Jan. 25, 2018 at 2:51 PM EST
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Near 15th and Broadway, the volunteers encountered a homeless person. (Source: Lee Holeman,...
Near 15th and Broadway, the volunteers encountered a homeless person. (Source: Lee Holeman, WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - On a January morning with temperatures in the mid 20s, hundreds of volunteers scattered throughout the streets of Louisville to count the homeless.

The annual Homeless Street Count is an effort hosted by Coalition for the Homeless, Centerstone and other homeless service providers. More than 300 volunteers gathered at Hotel Louisville before hitting the streets.

After gathering for a training session Tuesday night to learn about their responsibilities while on the streets, the same volunteers returned early this morning and ventured out from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. to perform their headcount.

Many looked in dumpsters, near fences and front porches of buildings to find where the homeless might sleep. When volunteers came across a homeless person, they provided gloves, socks and other simple necessities. A questionnaire was also filled out for each individual to seek their medical history and how long they have been homeless.

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The information was taken back to Hotel Louisville where more volunteers compared findings to rid the duplicates. The details will now help the groups better assess the need for funding in Louisville. The volunteers look for patterns in demographics, such as age and sex. Once a year, the group applies for the Federal HUD Continual Care grant.

"That brings about $9.5 million into the community and one of the requirements for applying for that money is that you have this understanding of how many people are out there homeless overnight," Coalition for the Homeless executive director Natalie Harris said.

Other cities throughout the state will also participate in the Homeless Count event throughout the upcoming week. The 2017 Census will be released this spring.

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