Counting the homeless: 2009

On Wednesday, January 28th, the Homeless Prevention Coalition of Guilford County conducted its annual Point in Time Count, a nation-wide count of the homeless mandated by the Department of Housing and Development.  The yearly census, conducted over a 24-hour period each January, helps determine the funding that each community receives from the government to provide services and housing for homeless people.  The count begins early and continues into the night, with counts done at shelters, transitional housing facilities, meal locations, and on the street.

During the afternoon, I checked out some outside homeless camps and some sleeping spots in empty houses and commercial buildings, with the help of a friend who’s been homeless in Greensboro for about four years.  He also pointed out camps and panhandling spots all over Greensboro.  We didn’t find anybody at the sleeping spots during the afternoon, but it was early for people to be there, and we’ll visit again on our Friday NightWatch street outreaches, bringing hot meals, blankets and other supplies.  Beginning at around 8:00 p.m., dozens of volunteers and Greensboro police officers went out to count homeless people who are living outside, and my friend rode with an officer who was counting with us for the first time.

During the night count, another currently homeless friend and I rode with downtown cops Tim Tepedino and Brad Johnson.  We checked bridges, camps, parked vehicles, parking decks, abandoned buildings, warehouses and street locations.  We counted 10 homeless people and also ran into some people who had already been counted by other teams. I saw old friends and made some new ones, and found additional locations to visit on NightWatch.  Totals from the count should be announced in about two weeks.  Stay tuned.

» Links to news coverage (stories and video) here.