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Thursday, February 02, 2023
<p>Sapphira Crawford, 36, right, a volunteer for the City of Gainesville/Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, helps George Washington take a survey at the bus stop in front of the Publix on 1302 N. Main St. on Tuesday afternoon.</p>

Sapphira Crawford, 36, right, a volunteer for the City of Gainesville/Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, helps George Washington take a survey at the bus stop in front of the Publix on 1302 N. Main St. on Tuesday afternoon.

Where did you sleep Monday night?

That was the question asked by volunteer surveyors Tuesday during the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry’s annual Point-in-Time homelessness census.

From 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday, volunteers collected personal information from homeless people around the North Central Florida region, according to a coalition press release.

Nate Phillips, 40, was one of the about 200 volunteers trained to work the survey. This was his second year participating.

Phillips said he has been homeless for about two years by choice.

He surveyed fewer people Tuesday than he did in 2012 because volunteers were limited to two-hour surveying shifts, he said. Last year, he volunteered for eight hours.

He said he chose to help again because he “could use a couple bucks.”

Theresa Lowe, director of the Gainesville/Alachua County Office on Homelessness, said the surveyors were paid $10 an hour.

Locally, volunteers conducted surveys at the Bo Diddley Community Plaza, St. Francis House and “Tent City,” a homeless camp in southeast Gainesville, Lowe said. They also canvassed through wooded areas where small pockets of people may have been living.

Some of those areas are secluded in a way that people walk by them every day and don’t notice people live there, she said.

The survey is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order to determine the coalition’s funding needs, Lowe said.

It also documents the status of homelessness for local policy makers, assists in local planning efforts, assesses local homeless needs and helps educate the public about homelessness, according to the release.

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The survey helps the Alachua County School Board gauge the extent of homelessness among students’ families, Lowe said.

In 2012, 2,094 homeless people were counted.

Overall, the survey found that homelessness increased about 18 percent throughout North Central Florida, according to the coalition website.

The survey also found that most homeless people are men who can’t find work that pays a living wage. Thirty percent of homeless people are impaired by health problems, according to the 2012 survey.

With the conclusion of the 2013 survey Tuesday night, Lowe said the results will be sent to HUD, Florida Department of Children & Families and other agencies and released in mid-February.

Sapphira Crawford, 36, right, a volunteer for the City of Gainesville/Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, helps George Washington take a survey at the bus stop in front of the Publix on 1302 N. Main St. on Tuesday afternoon.

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