Volunteers needed to help count homeless individuals in Riverside County for state and federal funding purposes

RIVERSIDE (Wire Service) – Riverside County officials put out a call today, Jan. 2, for volunteers to help count homeless people on Jan. 23.

The biennial homeless count is key in securing state and federal funding for programs meant to benefit the homeless.

“The more volunteers we have, the more likely we are to thoroughly identify who is homeless in our county,” said Susan Loew, the director of the Department of Social Services.

The count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to gauge the amount of funding for indigent assistance that should be allocated to local and state welfare agencies, officials said.

During the January 2011 count, more than 200 county personnel and volunteers fanned out to various locations, walking the streets, visiting encampments, looking under freeway bridges and touring shelters to conduct the best possible tally.

Just over 4,300 people were recorded as homeless countywide at that time, representing a 28 percent increase from the previous count in 2009, according to the DPSS.

Volunteers are needed in Indio, Lake Elsinore, San Jacinto, Riverside, and neighboring cities. Here’s a rundown of the orientation meetings:

— Riverside, Jan. 7 at 6 p.m., First Congregational Church, 3504 Mission Inn Ave.;

— Indio, Jan. 8 at 10 a.m., ABC Recovery Center, 44-359 Palm St.;

— San Jacinto, Jan. 14 at 6 p.m., San Jacinto Community Center, 625 S. Pico Ave.; and

— Lake Elsinore, Jan. 21 at 6 p.m., Ortega High School Conference Center, 520 Chaney St.

Anyone interested in volunteering can register to attend one of the four orientations by visiting www.riversidehomelesscounts.com.

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