Volunteers hit the Bay Area streets for homeless count - WFLA News Channel 8

Volunteers hit the Bay Area streets for homeless count

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© Brian Jefferson helps with the homeless count in downtown Tampa  (WFLA photo) © Brian Jefferson helps with the homeless count in downtown Tampa (WFLA photo)
© Brian Jefferson with Salvation Army helps with the homeless count. (WFLA photo) © Brian Jefferson with Salvation Army helps with the homeless count. (WFLA photo)
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

On a chilly Thursday morning volunteers walked the streets before sunrise, looking for the homeless. Their goal was to figure out what homeless looks like in Hillsborough County.

The homeless count happens every other year in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. Organizers say they can't help the homeless without the statistics gathered from the count.

"We can't be designing and planning programs for who we believe to be homeless we really need to know what the needs are," Lesa Weikel, with the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, said. "When we know we can plan to increase services and housing to get homeless people off the street."

Along with counting, volunteers also gave the homeless a survey. Brian Jefferson, with the Salvation Army, spent the morning asking people questions like "Do you remember the zip code of your last permanent address?" 

"They're cooperative because they know they need to give you the information so they can get the help they need," Jefferson said.

Although people like Jefferson work with the homeless on a daily basis, Weikel says most volunteers never encounter homeless people.

"They leave with a wow moment," Weikel said. "They realize this person is just like me."

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