South Sound News

Volunteers use new technology to count homeless in Pierce County

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — In an annual effort to count the homeless, 300 volunteers for Pierce County hit the streets early Friday morning armed with new technology to get the job done.

They started at 1 a.m., earlier than last year, using a mobile app called Counting Us for more accuracy.

Organizers credit the app in helping to make the process easier.

It allowed volunteers to enter the headcount of each homeless person, as well as get survey information from those counted.

The information collected will allow organizers to determine what resources are needed locally and request more federal funding for the future, organizers said.

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KIRO 7 was also told the reason the count started earlier was to allow them to get to people who may have been underrepresented in past counts.

Another new aspect to the homeless count in Pierce County this year is that every homeless person a volunteer spotted was counted, even if they didn’t answer the survey.

Organizers said the app is expected to allow for a faster total number to be revealed. It is expected to be revealed as early as next month.

Last year, the homeless count in Pierce County was around 1,300 people.

Volunteers said that number could triple or quadruple for 2018.

King County also performed a homeless count, and Snohomish County held a homeless count earlier in the week.

The count is a requirement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and Washington State Department of Commerce.

The data collected helps officials to understand the magnitude and characteristics of people who are homeless.

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