Count of the Homeless in North Alabama Underway

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – While most folks were waking up Tuesday morning, a team of people were already heading into parts of Huntsville not often seen.

It was the “Point in Time Project” for the North Alabama Coalition for Homeless.

It’s a necessary visit to gain an accurate perspective of who’s living on the streets and why.

Case workers for the non-profit First Stop of Huntsville and the North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless were headed out to determine the number of those people living in tents.

First Stop is a non-profit that aims to reduce the number of people living in squalor.

On Tuesday morning, the team headed out to get a head count and data.

“Have you been homeless for a year or more?” a case worker asks an unnamed homeless man.

“We count them because that affects the funding that we get from the government,” said Warren Taylor, a First Stop case worker.

They run across a man who served in the U.S. Army years ago and says diabetes prevents him from working.

The team tries to determine how many of the homeless are veterans, their ages, their physical and emotional ailments and why they’re on the street.

They approach at least three different homeless camps with news cameras in tow.

Team members estimate the homeless count to be around 300.
   
“With the economy as it is, i’m expecting the number to actually grow,” said Jody Slay, a case worker for First Stop.

Slay says only a fifth of the homeless population seek out help from groups like First Stop.

Team members get to know those less fortunate people.

“We provide them case management, transportation, referral services,” said Slay.  “Our ultimate goal is to get them housed, get them back on their feet.”

The groups rely on federal funding which is largely determined by the data the team is collecting.

The surveyors take 24 hours to get a snapshot of how many people are homeless on any given night.

They’ve found men and women, but no children — yet.
 
The homeless camps were set up on Derrick Street, under an overpass, on North Parkway behind Applebee’s restaurant and on Cleveland Street.

The survey is conducted in Madison, Limestone and Morgan Counties, through Wednesday night.

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