By Bay City News Service:
Contra Costa County is still seeking volunteers to help count the area's homeless population on Jan. 30.
The county's health services department relies on volunteers to take the biennial "point-in-time" count, which gathers data the department needs to secure state and federal funding, said Lavonna Martin, the county's acting director of homeless programs.
Central County Homeless Outreach has estimates of the homeless population in local cities.
The county's volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and complete a one-hour training session. During the two-hour count on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 30, volunteers in different parts of the county will set out by car in teams of two to scour streets and parks for the homeless. That includes those who are living in their cars.
The tally of the outdoor homeless population is also paired with the number of individuals staying in homeless shelters, Martin said.
County estimates show that more than 7,000 people in the county experienced homelessness last year. The count is also a tool to help the county understand the root causes of homelessness, Martin said.
In recent years, the economic downturn has been a underlying factor for many of the county's homeless, she noted. Last year, some 43 percent of the local homeless population were under 24 years old, according to Martin.
Anyone interested in volunteering may call (925) 313-6124, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out an online application form.
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