Workers, volunteers hit the streets to count local homeless

Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 6:55 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Deputies, marshals and volunteers are on the streets to accurately count people experiencing homelessness.

We joined the efforts to show you why this count is critical. On the steps of a church, a cot under the bridge, and the ground yards away from the shelter.

“They’re in shelters. They’re on the streets. They are in a place that’s unfit for human habitation,” said Lynda Barrs, Homeless Taskforce Action chair.

Late Wednesday night, we joined law enforcement and volunteers. Met in a parking lot separating into several teams with the same goal.

Volunteers handed out hygiene kits, blankets, and backpacks full of local resource information. The count will continue for three more days. The last stop will be Saturday at a food giveaway under the bridge.

Daniel Evans, Point in Time organizer said: “Try to make a connection with folks and have a conversation. That’s our goal tonight.”

The count hasn’t been done since January of 2020. Before the shutdown and before the eviction crisis.

Lynda Barrs, Homeless Taskforce Action chair said: “People that have not been homeless before, who’ve managed to pay rent because rents were lower, are finding themselves in situations that they’ve never been in.”

Volunteers surveyed anyone experiencing homelessness.

Surveyor: “Are you receiving any benefits at all?”

Man: “Nah, no.”

A 14-year Army veteran, sleeping near the 13th Street bridge. He’s never been homeless until recently.

Brandon Garrett: “How many times have you stayed in a shelter in the last three years?”

Man: “Once. I’ll sleep out here tonight it’s nice.”

The data is used for federal funding allocations. It could impact how much Augusta gets for emergency housing assistance programs. It also gives the state insight into public housing needs and helps the task force figure out solutions.

Barrs said: “You can’t fix the problem that you don’t know the magnitude of.”

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