DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — Volunteers are needed to assist in the annual count of homeless persons in southeastern Alabama.

The Southeast Alabama Coalition for the Homeless has arranged for the count to take place on Saturday, Jan. 25, in the Dothan area. It takes roughly two hours starting at 10 a.m.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development asks communities across the nation to count the homeless — those without a physical address at a particular point in time. It is called the annual Point-In-Time Count for short.

Homeless persons are categorized in the count as sheltered, living in an emergency shelter or transitional housing, or unsheltered, living in a place not meant for human habitation.

Kody Kirchhoff, executive director of the Harbor and event coordinator, said the count allows local charities focusing on assisting homeless persons to reach out to those in need, the Dothan Eagle reported.

“The reason we do it is because we can better connect with the homeless to get them assistance. We can acclimate them to resources in the area for basic needs and get them further from homelessness,” Kirchhoff said.

The count allows HUD and local agencies to identify trends in the number of homeless people, and determine if the number is increasing or decreasing. The numbers can also be used for state and federal funding through grants.

“A thorough count is crucial in identifying and understanding both the progress we’ve made and the gaps within our services,” said David Duke, Wiregrass 2-1-1 executive director.

Kirchhoff said the organizations will take all the volunteers they can get. Those wishing to assist will meet Saturday at the Harbor to be assigned in groups with agency leaders who are familiar with geographic areas where homeless converge. Volunteers will then go out and survey each homeless person’s status as sheltered or unsheltered.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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