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franklin county times

Volunteers needed to help with homeless survey

With the cold snap North Alabama has been experiencing the past few weeks, many people are thankful to have a warm place to go when the weather is less than pleasant, but one local organization is worried about those who don’t have such a luxury.
The Homeless Care Council of Northwest Alabama (HCCNWA), which is a coalition of local governmental and nonprofit agencies, community organizations, and faith-based programs, has made it their mission to take part in the effort of ending homelessness, especially locally.
The council is part of the nation’s Housing and Urban Development’s Continuum of Care Program and serves the counties of Franklin, Colbert, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Marion, and Winston.
To help the council get a better grasp of how many people in that coverage area are truly homeless and need assistance, they will be conducting a survey at the end of the month in their six-county area.
According to Jen Logan, public relations chair for the HCCNWA, the survey is known as the Point-in-Time count (PIT) and has been coordinated by the HCCNWA for over five years.
“We know that there is a problem with homelessness in our area because of the number of people we have who come to us for aid and the people who tell us about the homeless they have seen in their area,” Logan said, “but we don’t have an accurate count of how many there actually are.”
Nancy Isom, chair of the HCCNWA, said the survey would help them get a better grasp of how many homeless people there are in the six-county coverage area.
“The count will help determine which groups of people are most at risk for homelessness and allow the HCCNWA and its members to take targeted actions to assist those most at risk,’’ Isom said.
But she added that the survey was a large undertaking and one that would require volunteers from all six counties, including Franklin County.
“The HCCNWA needs many volunteers to cover such a large rural area and to gather the best data,’’ Isom said.
“We will also need the help of staff members of agencies and civil services that help those who are at risk.’’
Officials said the survey was also an important tool in receiving much-needed grant funding for Northwest Alabama.
“This is a great opportunity to get out and make a difference in your community,” Isom said.
The HCCNWA PIT survey will take place during a 24-hour period on January 29 – 30.
HCCNWA members said volunteers from local organizations and agencies, college students, senior citizens with time to volunteer, local churches and service organizations, and any entity who has contact with persons who at any time fall under the criteria defining homelessness, are all asked to help with the survey.
Organizers said volunteer training will be provided for the event.
For more information and to sign up to volunteer, contact the HCCNWA at: hccnwa.volunteer@gmail.com. More information about the HCCNWA can also be found at www.facebook.com/HCCNWA.

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