Volunteers count the homeless in Mesa

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

MESA, Ariz. -- Dozens of volunteers fanned out across Mesa Tuesday morning, trying to get a count of those in the area who are homeless.

The homeless street count will provide a snapshot of the number of people sleeping on the streets on any given night in the region. Last year the street count identified 1,053 homeless men, women and children.

The goal is to better understand how many individuals are experiencing homelessness in our community and be better equipped to meet their needs.

The MAG 2015 Point-In-Time Homeless Count is a one-day street count to determine the number of people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County during a given point in time. The count includes a brief survey to identify some of the characteristics of people experiencing homelessness in our community. 

Cities such as Mesa that receive federal funding for homeless assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are required to conduct an annual comprehensive count.

This helps local governments and nonprofit organizations more effectively allocate resources necessary to meet the needs of the homeless population.

"It helps us determine where to put the resources," says Tammy Albright with the City of Mesa. "We get this much money from HUD, then we know what their needs are and we can find agencies that fit their needs."

Volunteers were deployed in groups of two or three to count and interview homeless individuals and their families in various parts of Mesa.

There are several reasons the city is s draw for the homeless. "This area has a lot of transportation, and has a lot of services they need," says Albright.

Volunteers who went out Tuesday weren't just counting. They also handed out care packages filled with some hygiene items.

"The care packages we hand out if they will take a survey with us," says Albright. "But even if they won't. This is just a little something. It helps them brush their teeth in the morning. Just a little something to help them out."