GREENSBORO, Feb 28, 2013 (News & Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Volunteers found 949 homeless people in Guilford County during an annual count in January and early February.
That's down from 1,005 in 2012.
But the number of "chronically homeless" increased from 81 to 141.
The figures were released Wednesday. Local agency Partners Ending Homelessness compiled the figures for the annual Point in Time Count, "designed to collect data on the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness on any given night."
The count took place over several days, beginning on Jan. 30. Volunteers asked the homeless people they encountered where they had slept on the night of Jan. 29.
Of those counted, 781 were sheltered and 168 unsheltered. About 200 were children.
Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins and High Point Mayor Bernita Sims were among those at Wednesday's news conference.
"This is a tough environment from a jobs standpoint," said Perkins, with a few dozen homeless residents as well as local leaders in the audience.
"Our area -- High Point, Greensboro and Guilford County -- is coming back and coming back slowly, and it's important to position yourself that when the jobs are available, you have the skill set to get one."
This was the first year the agency took more than one day to conduct the count.
As a result, said Darryl Kosciak, the executive director of Partners Ending Homelessness, volunteers found more "chronically homeless" -- those who have a disability and have been homeless for at least a year, or experienced four instances of homelessness over a period of three years. Such individuals, Kosciak said, are typically unsheltered and harder to count.
"It's not an increase so much as we hadn't been able to count them before," he said.
Local organizations and agencies nationwide conduct counts at least every other year to secure funding for homeless programs from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"We use the data to figure out what kind of services our agencies might have to offer, and to give us an idea of special needs that might be increasing or decreasing," said Sara Patterson, operations assistant for Partners Ending Homelessness.
Staff Writer Jeri Rowe contributed to this report.
Contact Robert C. Lopez at 691-5091, and follow @rclopez79 on Twitter.
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