Two people found in Portland homeless count

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Even with the milder winter we’ve had so far, the weather this time of year is dangerous for homeless people.

In Portland, volunteers hit the streets for the annual Point-in-Time homeless survey. They found two people.

Only people who can be identified count toward the official total. For example, volunteers found a man tonight who didn’t want to take part in the survey.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires cities across the country to count the number of homeless people sleeping outside. It uses the data to decide how much money to give each city for services for the homeless.

Jim Devine, an advocate at the Homeless Voices for Justice, said even if the number of people counted is low, that’s not always the whole story. He knows several homeless people who are sleeping outside.

“They don’t tell me exactly where they’re at, because they like to keep it a secret,” he said.

Getting the actual tally is only part of the mission.

“We’re also trying to build a relationship, so we can figure out what’s going to get them into shelter,” Tara Snider, the operations programs coordinator for Portland, said. “If that’s not what they’re looking for, then what’s going to get them into housing and not the situation that they’re in right now?”

Volunteers will go out again Thursday and possibly Friday to look for more people.