Advocacy group prepares for annual homeless census

Advocacy group prepares for annual homeless census

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The Birmingham Baptist Association holds an annual Food for Friends food and clothing drive for the homeless. Source: WBRC video The Birmingham Baptist Association holds an annual Food for Friends food and clothing drive for the homeless. Source: WBRC video
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

One group plans to try to determine the number of homeless people in metro Birmingham.

Since the 1980s an annual census has been taken to see how many people do not have roofs over their heads.

"This is a homeless census. This information we collect is to find out how many homeless people we found in our community. Why are they homeless and if there are any services missing," Stacy Oliver with One Roof said.

One Roof was created to coordinate programs for the homeless. Oliver says One Roof will have a team of 120 to 130 volunteers to go out the evening of Tuesday, Jan. 22 into the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 23.

"The census is completely confidential. We prefer no one reports names. We have a system in place to cut down on the duplication," Oliver said.

Volunteers will walk a street grid Tuesday night looking for homeless people and families. Wednesday morning volunteers will head to soup kitchens and shelters. Homeless numbers have dropped over the last couple of years, going from 1,900 in 2011 to 1,700 in 2012.

But One Roof fears those numbers could increase with the loss of federal funds for housing.

"We are a little concern that end in stimulus funding we are either going to see a loss of a decrease or it's going to increase a little bit this year," Oliver said.

The metro Birmingham area covers Jefferson, Shelby and St. Clair counties. This year the census will include what access the homeless has to medical care.

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