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Southwest Louisiana ,


Volunteers lineup to count area's homeless

Last Modified: Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:14 AM

By John Guidroz / American Press

About 25 volunteers will find out how many homeless people are in the five-parish area of Southwest Louisiana next week, an official said Wednesday.

The Point-In-Time Homeless Count Survey will take place Tuesday in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes. Volunteers will participate in a training session 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 812 Kirkman St. Fifty to 100 volunteers are needed.

Umeih Thomas, interim coordinator for the Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Continuum of Care, said volunteers will count homeless people living in shelters, hospitals or institutions and those living on the streets.

She said the effort has become more challenging because some homeless people tend to blend in with those who are not.

“Homeless people don’t dress like they used to,” Thomas said. “They don’t necessarily have dirty clothes or carry around bags.”

Angela Jouett is the director of the Calcasieu Medical Reserve Corps, the agency organizing the count. She said homeless people are given a form to fill out that is similar to a census report. It asks where the person slept the night before, along with other questions about his or her history.

Jouett said people do not have to answer every question on the form and do not have to give their names. She said organizers have 200 bags with supplies like toothpaste and other toiletries for people who fill out the surveys. They will also provide medical care, including blood pressure tests.

Thomas said the Continuum of Care will submit information from the count to agencies like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The number of homeless people counted could affect how much federal grant money Southwest Louisiana receives.

Jouett said volunteers found 152 homeless people in 2011 and 2012. She said finding the same number two years in a row is unusual because some homeless people don’t stay in one place for long.

To volunteer, call 656-0839 by Thursday. For more information, call Jouett at 656-0839 or Thomas at 721-5045.

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