Annual Broward Homeless Count Underway

FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – More than 200 volunteers in Broward County will spend the next 24 hours counting every homeless person in the County and asking them to complete a survey.

The 2013 Homeless Point-In-Time Count and Survey began at noon Thursday and runs through noon on Friday.

The count is being conducted by the Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership in collaboration with the Broward Regional Health Planning Council, Inc. (BRHPC) and the Homeless Count Committee which is made up of members of not-for-profit social service agencies, faith-based organizations, law enforcement and government agencies within Broward.

Michael R. Wright, administrator of the Broward County Homeless Initiative Partnership, said the count is vital because it is used to substantiate need for all federal and state grants.

An accurate count helps Broward County get needed resources to help persons experiencing homelessness in Broward.

“The survey is used to provide up-to-date information about the needs of persons experiencing homelessness,” added Regine Kanzki, a division director with the BRHPC.

Outreach worker Jane Cohn surveyed people who congregate at an area known as the wall outside the main library in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

Jack Issacson is considered chronically homeless.

He described, “sleeping in a dumpster, in an electrical room and knowing a friend who was hit by a car and ended up in the hospital.”

While a large number of the homeless are on the streets because of drug and alcohol addictions or because of mental illness, others are homeless because of economic reasons.

Virginia Cassell found herself homeless after she suffered a series of health problems including diabetes and a stroke.  She could no longer continue her job as a truck driver and found herself homeless.

‘I went to a shelter to die. But then I got medical help and was able to get on disability,” said Cassell.

Gradually she found her way out of the dark hole. Now Cassell has become a homeless advocate and is helping to conduct the surveys.

“It’s my way of giving back,” she told CBS4’s Joan Murray.

Broward’s Homeless Count Committee is committed to improving housing options through the implementation of a comprehensive care system.

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