Volunteers track Utah’s homeless

Posted at 7:03 PM, Jan 26, 2012

Volunteers are spreading out across Utah to count Utah’s homeless population.

Every year, the state goes to shelters, churches, jails, hospitals and soup kitchens to count those who have no homes.

The federal government uses the information to document trends and allocate funds for homeless assistance programs. The census also helps local and national agencies know who they are serving.

“This information gets used by homeless service providers as well as the state to determine the number of people who are chronically homeless, as well as the amount of funding and things that should go to homeless services,” said Alex Larson with the Homeless Youth Resource Center.

In the past, the state count has happened on one designated night, but this year, the count will take place over five days, with surveyors working to determine where each person stayed on the night of Jan. 25.

Last year’s study found that 24 percent of the homeless had experienced chronic substance abuse, 24 percent were victims of domestic violence, 22 percent had experienced mental illness and 14 percent were military veterans.