FLORENCE — Rachel Cabaniss said northwest Alabama has a homeless population, but no one really knows how many are involved or what accommodations are available in the region.
"We know we have homeless people here and there are others who are living from place to place," said Cabaniss, director of Safeplace Inc. and a member of the Homeless Care Council of Northwest Alabama. "They sleep on someone's couch as long as they can and then they move to another. They are one step away from being on the street." Cabaniss said the regional Homeless Care Council, which involves Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Marion and Winston counties, is trying to determine the exact number of homeless people living in the region.
Jen Logan, public relations officer for the council, said the agency along with local volunteers are conducting a 24-hour survey on Wednesday and Thursday to identity the number of homeless people and their needs.
"The survey will give the council a better understanding of the homeless population we have in the region, why they're are homeless and what needs to be done to keep them from being back on the street," Logan said. "We hope the survey will help us find a solution for their problems in regards to a stable home.
"Most people don't see them, so they don't understand the need. But there are people who are asking for help from a variety of agencies."
Cabaniss said the survey is needed to help the council apply for grants through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The money would be used to meet needs of the homeless in the region.
"There are places in the region that provide housing on emergency or temporary basis for the homeless," Logan said.
Cabaniss said some churches in the region provide motel vouchers for the homeless.
"We hope the survey will tell us how many agencies and churches are providing temporary or emergency shelter," she said.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.