Groups work to determine number of homeless people in Montgomery

Groups work to determine number of homeless people in Montgomery

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - How big of a homeless problem does Montgomery have? The Mid Alabama Coalition for the Homeless, or MACH, is working to finalize the numbers from last week's count.

The group joined other organizations like the Friendship Mission in Montgomery to find out just how many people in the area are without permanent shelter.

"We find out who the clients are, what their needs are and if they have any urgent needs that we can meet and address. And we also take that time to find out from them where other homeless people may be in the area," said Lakeesa Butler, a case manager at the Friendship Mission.

She said that even though the exact numbers aren't in yet, she thinks they've increased.

"I don't think anyone really wakes up one day and says, 'you know I want to be homeless.' I think they kind of just fall into that and we do our best to give them what they need to transition into that," Butler said.

She said that she's found over her years of working with the homeless, some don't want help.

"Some people have really become conditioned to the life of being homeless and that's very unfortunate and with that comes people not always wanting to follow the rules or not having structure and so to come into an environment where there is structure, it can be kind of life altering," Butler said.

Jo Ann Johnson, the executive director for Hands on River Region, said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development uses the data they gather from their yearly homeless count to grand federal funding for local permanent housing programs.

"Our community is able to secure several million dollars to go towards shelter services and other homeless programs so that's really important to bring funds into our community that we can then use to serve homeless individuals," Johnson said.

She said a lot of homeless people they spoke with suffered from various mental illnesses, and or struggled with substance abuse. She also said that they see a lot of homeless veterans on the streets and families.

MACH said they won't have the exact numbers from this year's homeless count until later this week.

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