On Wednesday, volunteers in Duval, Clay and Nassau counties will visit places where homeless people are known to spend time as part of the annual point-in-time homeless count.
Dawn Gilman with Jacksonville’s Changing Homelessness says the yearly January census is a requirement for groups that get federal money to help the homeless.
“We count both people that are sheltered and unsheltered,” Gilman says. “So we’ll be counting people who are in emergency shelters, in transitional housing, as well as those who are on the streets, in the woods, under bridges and overpasses.”
Gilman says that helps organizations spot trends.
“So, we can tell if there’s an increase or decrease in veterans who are homeless or families with minor children or young people 18-to-24,” she says.
Last year, for the first time, Northeast Florida counters found fewer homeless families. But at the same time, Gilman says, homelessness among young people and those over 60 seems to be on the rise.
In addition to the count, volunteers also ask a series of questions to determine if immediate intervention is needed to save a homeless person's life, and they make note of the location and include a description of the person to help special outreach teams find them again.
Changing Homelessness is also asking for donations to buy $5 fast-food gift cards to give each homeless participant who agrees to answer questions.