SC coalition starts annual homeless count - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

SC coalition starts annual homeless count

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Aiken County, SC (WFXG) -

Under bridges, on park benches and in the woods; hundreds of men and women in South Carolina will be counted tonight. For its annual Homeless Count, the South Carolina Homeless Coalition will tally up the number of men, women and children sleeping in shelters, and on the streets.

"When you're seeking funding, when you're asking for help, when you're presenting your story, it's very important to have a true demonstrated need," said Lisa Tindall, Coordinator of the Aiken area's homeless count. "And so the numbers will represent that need."

Last year, Aiken County counted 24 homeless people. But that number only reflects how many were sleeping in shelters the night of the 2012 count. Count coordinators in the Aiken area say there aren't enough volunteers to search for homeless throughout our entire county.

You can tell by the potato chip bag, the soda bottle, and the makeshift fire pit underneath a bridge on Creek Road in Gloverville, that not all homeless people go to shelters at night. That's why our area is trying to keep track of the unsheltered homeless another way.

"The clients come in," said Karen Perry, Operations Manager with ACTS, Inc. "We determine if they're homeless or not."

In downtown Aiken, ACTS, Inc., or Area Churches Together Serving, coordinates with nearly 70 churches to receive donations for their programs.

"We provide food, clothing, utility assistance, medication assistance to people that meet the USD guideline," Perry said.

ACTS, Inc. fills out forms for unsheltered homeless people based on their clients who come in, many who, they say, sleep in their cars across Aiken County.

"With our economy, and with the difficulty finding work and different layoffs, it's just very important to understand that many people are just a paycheck away from being homeless," Tindall said.

And in order to help homeless men and women transition off the streets and back into the workforce, coordinators say the Count is the most resourceful way to continue operating programs that support that cause.

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