State-wide count will help the homeless -, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State-wide count will help the homeless

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By LeiLani Golden - bio | email

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) –Communities across Georgia will participate in a statewide homeless count in a couple of weeks.

The count helps determine where money from different aid organizations should be spent and how better to help the homeless community get back on their feet.

It's been two years since Thomasville last counted its homeless population.

"There's a lot of people who is homeless right here in this town," says James McDuffie who admits he's almost homeless himself.

Charlotte Christian, the city's housing administrator adds, "I think there's a lot of shuffling it under the rug and people don't think there's homeless people living in our community but there are. I hope the public will open their eyes. "

So the last week of January, the city will participate in a street count and anonymous survey of the homeless, to get an idea of where government aid will best be spent.

"I just think it's important that we know who those folks are and that we are in a position to offer help and to know more of how we can help," explains Christian.

Officials say the count is traditionally done during the coldest times of the year, like Monday. That's when they say the homeless problem becomes the most visible.

"I think obviously there's some frigid temperatures and some communities have opened shelters for that and we don't yet have that," says Christian. "We do not have enough shelter space in this county at all."

Because the homeless live a transient lifestyle, the volunteer counters will focus on places like soup kitchens to find them. This year's survey will also take into account those who are 'precariously housed', which means a person doesn't own or rent the place where they are living.

"We are trying to count those because we knew that number has grown tremendously in the last few years," Christian explains.

"I'm in bad shape but not quite homeless," McDuffie tells us. "It's rough on me so I know it's rough on them. Especially these days and times."

"We appreciate the government for looking in on the need," says Erlean Douglas who runs a soup kitchen in Thomasville.

And the homeless hope the help comes sooner than later.

A training session will take place Tuesday at 1 PM for anyone interested in helping with the homeless count in Thomas County at the City of Thomasville's Operation Building Training Room (944 Smith Ave., Thomasville).

For more information, call Charlotte Christian at (229) 227-3368.

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