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Homeless count 2008

The holidays may be over but there’s still time to help the less fortunate. The city is gearing up for the sixth annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE 2008) on January 28 and needs more than 2,500 volunteers to complete the survey of individuals living on streets, in parks, and in the subway system. “It’s unacceptable for so many of our fellow New Yorkers to be living on the streets,” said city Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Robert V. Hess. “One way concerned citizens can help right now is by calling 311 and volunteering one night to help estimate the size of the street homeless population. But HOPE is not just about counting people or adding up numbers; HOPE is about reaching out to those men and women who most need our help.” Last year, volunteers surveyed more than 1,000 subway cars. City officials say the survey allows DHS to determine the effectiveness of current strategies to eliminate homelessness, and create new action plans. Community Board 13 District Manager Chuck Reichenthal said Coney Island’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) has agreed to participate in the survey, but that’s not enough. At the board’s recent meeting, Reichenthal asked residents to volunteer for HOPE 2008. “There are more homeless people out there than we ever realized,” he said. “I think it’s vital and important that we get an idea” of how many people are homeless in New York City, Reichenthal continued. Last year’s HOPE survey found that people living on city streets or in parks decreased by 19 percent from 2006. To volunteer for HOPE 2008, contact 311 or log onto www.nyc.gov/dhs. Volunteers, who will each receive a HOPE 2008 T-shirt, will meet at 10:30 p.m. at training sites located throughout the five boroughs and participate in a brief training session. Teams will be formed and asked to cover a specific area from midnight to 4 a.m.

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