Volunteers Conduct Surveys in Lynchburg to Count Number of Homeless

Lynchburg, VA - The Homeless and Housing Coalition of Central Virginia was out Thursday counting the area's homeless. The purpose is to get a better picture of the need in our area.

Several stations were set up conducting the survey. Volunteers were out at the public library, bus stops and Daily Bread.

The Salvation Army is one of the largest homeless shelter in our area, and roughly 23 trained volunteers showed up to help to the count Thursday morning.

"We learned how to give the survey respectfully and accurately," said Taylor Thompson.

Thompson is a student at Lynchburg College.

"Some of them shut down and won't tell you anything but I found it surprising how many people will be totally open with you," said Thompson.

He says taking part in the survey was an eye opener.

"This is a population that doesn't often get to talk about themselves so when you give them the chance some of them will just light up and start going," said Thompson.

Interfaith Outreach provided toiletry bags for the homeless.

"It serves as an incentive for them to participate as well as meeting their basic needs because most of them are in dire need of toiletry products," said Shawne Farmer with the Interfaith Outreach Association.

Farmer is the executive director for Interfaith. She says participating in the survey gives her an appreciation for the products many of us use every day.

"I'm struck by the severity of skin conditions lots of times for people who are outside in the elements," said Farmer.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires the anonymous survey be done every year. Thompson just hopes it helps.

"To gauge our community's needs and how we're meeting them and how we can better meet them," said Thompson.

Volunteers will be out continuing to count until 7 p.m. Thursday. Organizers believe that the number of homeless may increase from last year because of weather. In 2012, this count was done on a much warmer day.

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