Historic Initiative to Count Homeless Population

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Temperatures are dropping, jobs are disappearing and the homeless know it.

In fact, they feel it acutely every time the bitter wind howls a little stronger.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness released a report on Tuesday that said Kansas experienced a 60 percent decrease in the number of homeless people. Yet the report uses numbers from 2005 to 2007, and does not reflect the current situation.

"The information reported in the national survey did not have good numbers," said Randy Crandall, the chair of the Kansas Statewide Homeless Coalition board of directors.

The Point-in-Time Homeless Count will work to change that next week. In addition to counting the urban homeless, the historic initiative will include rural counties for the first time.

Volunteers will count the homeless in 40 of the 105 counties in Kansas. The final numbers will offer a stratified sample that accounts for population, regional differences and poverty levels.

Crandall said the current economy, coupled with recent frigid temperatures, can lead to dangerous situations.

At the Topeka Rescue Mission, located at 600 N Kansas Ave., locals in Topeka can find a free meal, a bed or simply refuge from the cold.

Executive Director Barry Feaker said he hopes the Point-in-Time Homeless Count will give a more accurate record for Kansas.

To get involved, contact volunteer organization United Way of the Plains at www.unitedwayplains.org.