May 13, 2005 The Department of Planning and Natural Resources needs volunteers to help get an accurate count of the territory's homeless people. The department plans to count on May 21.
"They're going to go where the homeless people are and ask questions. It's not going to be easy," Laurence Joshua, DPNR's director of capital development and planning, said Friday.
He said the volunteers will head out to areas where homeless people tend to live.
Joshua said the department has yet to decide on what time of day the count will be taken. He said that while nighttime is optimum, it's more risky. However, he said a police escort is being considered and the volunteers will travel in groups.
"Training will be provided," he said.
He said about 25 people each are needed on St. Thomas and St. Croix, with about a half dozen on St. John.
Joshua said the department must get an accurate count to comply with U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant guidelines.
The information will be used to develop a Continuum of Care system to get the homeless off the street into emergency housing before moving them into transitional housing and finally into permanent housing.
He said the department has developed the Methodist Outreach and Training Center on St. Thomas to deal homeless people. Efforts are underway to do the same on St. Croix.
Joshua said that the volunteers will ask questions that cover issues like length of time and cause of homelessness, where the homeless person normally eats and sleeps, and does the person know any other homeless people.
He said estimates put the amount of homeless people at under 2,000 for the entire territory.
To volunteer, call Yvette Christopher at 774-3320, extension 5175.
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