A count of the homeless people living in Maricopa County will take place later this month in an effort to learn who’s experiencing homelessness and the resources they need.
The Maricopa Association of Governments coordinates the Point-in-Time homeless count in Maricopa County each year to secure homeless-assistance funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
This year’s count will take place during the morning hours of Tuesday, January 26. Volunteers will count the number of homeless people who slept in shelters or in the streets, including parks, cars, campgrounds, and abandoned buildings.
“This will help us get an idea of how many people are experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County,” said Anne Scott, human services planner with the county Association of Governments.
Scott said her group expects about 500 volunteers will participate in the count — the same number as last year. Volunteers will be trained to collect information about homeless people, such as how long they’ve been homeless, what led them homelessness and the challenges they face. She said this information will “give us a better idea of how to tailor our services to the community that needs them.” Demographic information — such as age, gender, and ethnicity — also will be collected.
Scott said the count also will help evaluate the effectiveness of current programs designed to help reduce the number of homeless.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said in a statement that the homeless count is “critical in our collective work toward ending homelessness in the region.
“The results from the count will help us to better understand the widespread nature of homelessness, identify trends, and help target critical funding and services to those most in need,”
An analysis of the data collected is expected to be completed in May. All the data will be sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will collect the same information from other regions and put together a national report.
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The number of homeless people in Maricopa County has increased over the past few years, according to data collected during previous homeless counts.
The 2014 homeless count found that 5,918 people were experiencing homelessness here, with 1,053 of them reporting that they slept on the streets and 4,865 saying they stayed in shelters. Meanwhile, the 2015 homeless count showed that 6,920 people were homeless here. Of that number, 1,289 slept in the streets and 5,631 slept in shelters.
However, the number of children who are homeless in Maricopa County has decreased over the past two years: 1,334 children were homeless in 2015, down from 1,819 children in 2014.
Tucson also plans to count the number of people experiencing homelessness in the area. It will conduct its count on Wednesday, January 27.