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Jax nonprofit takes summer census of homeless population

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville non-profit Changing Homelessness its conducting its first summer census of the homeless population, with a focus on homeless veterans, abandoned children and chronically homeless and disabled adults. More than 100 volunteers took surveys around downtown Jacksonville, Orange Park and Jacksonville Beach from 5-9 am and 5-9 pm on Wednesday.

“We have made some significant progress in our efforts to help our veterans,” said Dawn Gilman, CEO of Changing Homelessness. “But right now, we need to know exactly where we stand.”

Volunteers helping with the so-called “Surge” survey project recently completed two days of training where they were taught how to locate, identify and interview homeless veterans and how to maintain their personal safety while covering the landscape of the community. Volunteers will also be distributing water, socks and hygiene kits to veterans and other homeless people as they interact with them throughout the community.

Most of the volunteers have full-time other jobs or work for other organizations like Lutheran Services.

Volunteer Joe Wolf is on the Board of Directors. He says he experienced bouts of homelessness as a child so he knows how important it is to reach out and try to meet their needs.

Homelessness has been on the decline in Jacksonville in recent years, particularly among veterans. Gilman estimates that veteran homelessness has been reduced by more than 50 percent over the past three years.

To help you can make a donation on their website changinghomelessness.org or you can volunteer on their next survey project in January.