Volunteers are learning how to take a census of homeless people in Fresno and Madera.
The numbers they collect will be turned over to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, which in turn could pay for some permanent housing here in the valley.
More than 150 volunteers attended training sessions Sunday a Poverello House to learn how to safely and accurately complete a survey for homeless people.
This is part of a grassroots effort by the group Common Ground,
which has goal of giving 100,000 people across the country a home by July of 2014. But first, volunteers must learn their stories and what's contributed to their homelessness.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people think it's just drugs, alcohol, but there's so much more behind there that we've seen. Disconnect from community, mental issues, loss of jobs and things like that,” said Melissa Mikel, a project coordinator.
Information collected will go into a database. Everyone surveyed will be given a priority ranking based on how long they've lived on the streets and what type of medical conditions they have.
“To see if we can offer them any type of services to improve their quality of life or if there are some housing resources out there we can connect them to as well,” said Mikel.
The census will take place Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Volunteers hit the streets at 5 a.m.
“I'm up that early anyways, so why not put it toward helping other people,” said Amy Bird, a volunteer.
Amy bird participated in a similar survey two years ago.
“It was an amazing experience to be out with these people and to hear the different stories of why people are out on the streets,” said Bird.
She later learned some of those she interviewed were placed into homes.
“And that's just a great feeling,” said Bird.