Training for hundreds of volunteers for the Coalition for the Homeless street count.

The Coalition for the Homeless is looking for hundreds of volunteers for its annual street count next week.

Every city that applies for federal funds to mitigate homelessness must conduct a street count each year during the last week in January. The Coalition said an accurate count is important “to help our community plan how to best dedicate resources to the most vulnerable Louisvillians.”

“The more volunteers we have – the more areas we can cover, and the greater our chances are of getting an accurate count,” added Natalie Harris, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, in a news release. “The Street Count is a key part of making sure we are reaching the right people in our efforts.”

This year’s street count is from 4 a.m.-6 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25. The day before, volunteers attend a mandatory training session from 6-7 p.m. at Hotel Louisville.

Last year, some 350 volunteers canvassed areas frequented by homeless people looking for people sleeping outdoors. They counted 156 people, up from 112 in 2016 and 70 in 2015.

The volunteers will meet at Hotel Louisville just before 4 a.m. on Jan. 25 to break into four-person teams to conduct the survey. After searching known homeless locations all over the county, the Coalition said, volunteers go back to Hotel Louisville for breakfast, provided by Aetna.

Recently, the cold weather has led the Coalition to turn to its White Flag program, which it says helped more than 3,000 individuals between October and December. The White Flag program is initiated when the temperature drops below 35 degrees. In December alone, the Coalition said, the program was activated 21 days, which was a record.

Wayside Christian Mission, St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army participate in the program. On those nights, the three shelters agree to take in as many people as they can.

Nina Mosley with Wayside Christian Mission told WLKY that Sunday night the center housed an additional 112 people.

“It’s a strain on the budget,” Mosley said. “But we want people to come in and get off the streets.”

The Coalition for the Homeless said recently that it had already used about half its yearly $32,100 budget for the White Flag program.

Mosley said despite the stretched resources, the facility would continue to take in anyone who needed a place to stay on cold nights.

“That commitment stays strong,” Mosley said. “We are going to take people in.”

Representatives for St. Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army told WLKY that they also planned to continue their efforts on White Flag nights.

WLKY contributed reporting.


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