Volunteers count Vegas homeless population

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Teams of volunteers braved cold temperatures overnight to count the valley’s homeless population.  It is part of Clark County’s annual homeless census, which is used to direct resources to the most needy areas.

In 2017, the county found roughly 6,500 people living on the streets.  Michele Fuller-Hallauer, a social services coordinator with Clark County, did not expect a large increase this year, but said ending homelessness should be a goal of government and private groups.

“It impacts our economy,” said Fuller-Hallauer. “It impacts the workforce and the cost on public services.”

The annual survey is required to qualify for federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Many volunteers involved in the count were once homeless themselves. Fuller-Hallauer said formerly homeless individuals know where to find people seeking shelter.  She also said many of them are thankful for the services they have received to get back on their feet and want to help someone else.

Volunteer teams met late Wednesday night at Catholic Charities, north of downtown Las Vegas.  County officials say private donations and nonprofit groups are critical for helping to end homelessness in the valley.

“The nonprofits are the backbone of our homeless efforts,” said Fuller-Hallauer. “Without them we couldn’t do this. We need our foundations and philanthropic community involved.  We need our citizens involved and helping with our nonprofits so they can be sustainable and continue to do the good work.”

The count will continue Thursday night, as volunteers will look for homeless teenagers.

Results of the census will not be finalized for several weeks.

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