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Volunteers Needed For Atlanta's Point-In-Time Homeless Count

ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- Volunteers are needed for Atlanta's Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count, which tracks how many sheltered and unsheltered people in a given area are experiencing homelessness.

Ashlee Starr has volunteered for the PIT count in Atlanta for the last 15 years.

"It really just entails asking people questions, gaining some demographic information," she said. "I believe that we can end homelessness, and I think the best way to do that is to understand the needs of people experiencing homelessness."

HUD requires local governments to do a PIT count on the coldest day in January. Partners for HOME is the lead agency coordinating the city's homeless activity. They're looking for more volunteers to help with the count on January 24, 2022.

"We engage volunteers, approximately 200, to go out in the nighttime to count and interview the unsheltered folks living in the City of Atlanta," said Partners for HOME Chief Operating Officer Melissa Austin.

They'll join other cities and local counties doing PIT counts. The data is used to track efforts to end homelessness and provide resources.

"We have outreach teams that conduct outreach throughout the City of Atlanta. We also have known hot spots and encampments," Austin said.

They counted more than 3,200 homeless individuals in 2020, which includes about 2,300 people living in shelters and close to 940 unsheltered individuals. HUD waived the unsheltered count for 2021 due to COVID-19.

Mayor Andre Dickens says he's looking at plans to address homelessness, and for now, he's focusing on getting people out of the cold.

"We're also looking at hotel, motel purchases within the city or just outside the city's outskirts to be able to have those places to rapidly house those individuals," he said.

For Partners for HOME, the push to sign up more PIT count volunteers by their deadline of January 20 continues. Volunteers must show proof of vaccination and get tested for COVID the night of the count.

"We have volunteers that are needed for the night of. By the 20th is when we need to know the names. The following week, when we go to day sites, by Monday the 24th, we need volunteers for that as well," said Austin.

For more information on volunteering, click here.

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