AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Augusta-Richmond County is gearing up for the 2022 Point-In-Time count, which is a count of the homeless population in the area.

The goal of the Point-In-Time count is two fold. The city needs to know how many people are living in the area without a home and what types of individualized resources they need.

Volunteers will take down specific demographic information, including mental health and addiction issues, via a five to six question survey. Then outreach programs in the area will use that information to better serve the area’s homeless.

“We know that we have a growing homeless problem in Augusta-Richmond County and this will just give us an idea of how large the problem is so that we can put together the strategies and tools that we need to make a difference,” said Lynda Barrs of the Augusta Homeless Task Force and CSRA Economic Opportunity Authority.

The Point-In-Time count is required every two years for communities with a continuum of care. It’s led by the Department of Housing and Community Development and aided by other organizations. It will be conducted February 18-28.

First, those living in a homeless shelter will be counted.

“In the sheltered count, we go to each of the shelters. We’re going on Monday night the 21st. Everybody that comes in for services will be counted. That’s men, women, and children in Augusta-Richmond County,” Barrs said.

They will also go to soup kitchens and other areas where the homeless congregate.

Next, volunteers will count people living on the streets or in encampments.

“The street count involves going into encampments that we have identified already. We have 38 encampments in Augusta-Richmond county. We know where they are. That count takes place form 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. the next morning,” Barrs said.

In Augusta and nationally, more homeless people live on the streets than those who utilize shelters. Barrs says the count is crucial this year, as she says the pandemic has certainly increased that number.

“We recognize that this year we have to get a good count and really know the magnitude of the people that we have,” Barrs said.

The information gathered will be used to better individualize resources, and work toward eventually ending homelessness in the area.

“It’s a problem that we as a community have to look at, face, and find the best options as to how to solve it,” Barrs said. “Housing is a really big issue. We have families right now that are living in hotels because hotels in Augusta have become the affordable housing for low income families.”

Volunteers are needed to help with the count. They will go in groups of five or six and will be accompanied by law enforcement personnel. Volunteers must complete a training session, and the counting is done through an app you can download on your phone.

If you would like to volunteer, contact Lynda Barrs. Her email is lbarrs@csraeoa.org.