CBS Atlanta News photojournalist Schewislzer Lewis and editor Jim Gilson take a hard look at what it's like to be homeless.More >
In January, almost 634,000 people were counted homeless in the U.S. About a third of those were unsheltered, living in campgrounds, cars or abandoned homes or buildings. CBS Atlanta News photojournalist Schewislzer Lewis and editor Jim Gilson take a hard look at what it's like to be homeless.More >
ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -
Atlanta's mayor is launching a program to count the homeless people living on the streets or staying in emergency shelters.
"The specific goal for Thursday night and Friday morning is that we want to see that every homeless person in Atlanta, every homeless person we can touch, we can find a resource for," said Reese McCranie, spokesman for the mayor.
Hundreds of volunteers will fan out and try to get the names of those who are homeless and then create a homeless registry. McCranie said the city will then identify any services the homeless need to get back on their feet.
But those who work with the homeless said getting a headcount will not solve the problem.
"If we can identify the homeless people, we can sort of move them around like a ship of fools and that's what the city has been very good at doing," said Anita Beaty, executive director of the Metro Atlanta Homeless Task Force.
Beaty said it is difficult to get an accurate count of the homeless since the numbers constantly change.
"We pull people out of the river and get them served and get them housed but three people come right behind them," said Beaty. "So until we stem the tide by changing public policy we're not going to make a dent in this issue."
Beaty said Atlanta needs more affordable housing so the homeless can get off the streets.
McCranie said the city will review its policies in the future.
"This is not a solution," said McCranie. "What we're doing right now is the first step. To be able to address an issue, we have to know exactly who our audience is."
Volunteers can work Thursday, Jan. 17 from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. or Friday Jan. 18 from 12 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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