Why homeless counts matter in Roanoke - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Why homeless counts matter in Roanoke

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On Thursday, the city of Roanoke took part in a nationwide effort to count the number of homeless people in America. Volunteers with the city's Homeless Assistance Team said the "homeless count" helps determine what kind of services the city needs to provide and how much funding they will receive from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It's been a tough year for Vicki Mash. She said her son kicked her out of the house and left her without a place to call home.

"I had no job and I was scared" she said.

She went to the Rescue Mission for help. It is one of the agencies that took part in this year's homeless count. City leaders said the survey is an effort to better understand the community's needs.

"It is difficult to provide services if you don't know to whom you are providing them" said Paula Prince, Blue Ridge Interagency Advisory Council on Homelessness. "We need to know how many men are homeless, how many women are homeless and the number of children that are homeless. We what to know what their challenges are and what is keeping them from becoming re-housed."

Prince said the survey looks at factors such as employment history, mental health and military status. She said it could be March before the city releases the data from the homeless count. City officials said last year's numbers were lower than the previous year. They are hopeful that this year's count will be lower too.

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