Volunteers to survey Pinellas homeless population - WFLA News Channel 8

Volunteers to survey Pinellas homeless population

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The number of the homeless in Pinellas is higher than the estimate The number of the homeless in Pinellas is higher than the estimate

Hundreds of volunteers will spend Thursday trying to talk to each homeless person in Pinellas County.

"They're living in their car. They're living on the street. They're living doubled up, triple up," said Sarah Snyder, CEO of the Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Board. "It's a big problem and we need to know who's out there that's homeless and what services they need."

The data gathered will be shared with the federal government and local social service agencies.

"We want to know where they normally stay. What are the major reasons why they're homeless? How old are they? Are they a veteran?," Snyder explained.

Volunteers find it's not always easy to get people to share that kind of personal information, so they will offer incentives. Local churches have donated backpacks filled with toiletries and the Homeless Leadership Board used donated funds to purchase McDonald's gift cards.

Volunteers counted about 6,000 homeless people in Pinellas County last year. Snyder says the real number is significantly higher.  They've found for the last several years, the fastest growing segment of the Pinellas County homeless population are families with children.

"These are individuals who for whatever reason don't have permanent housing, don't have regular shelter. And they are people with stories and people with reasons why it happens," she said.

Hillsborough County will hold a similar homeless survey next month. More volunteers are needed. You can sign up here.

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