PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Teams of volunteers, advocates and personal are fanning out across in Philadelphia and New Jersey for a “Point-in-Time”count as part of an effort to end homelessness.

Liz Hersh, director of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services, says teams will look to document information about the city’s homeless.

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She says among the volunteers working on the data collection are some who have been there themselves.

“Almost 40 percent have lived experience that means that they have experienced homelessness themselves,” she said. “So that means that, in many cases, the folks on the street are talking to someone who has been there. That peer-to-peer contact makes all the difference.”

Hersh says the information will help the city of Philadelphia prioritize the use of limited resources.

“We don’t have enough to go around so we want to make sure that whatever we do invest in has the greatest impact.”

Shantel Garner is with the Camden County Community Planning and Advocacy Council says the count is mandated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

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She says one day each year volunteers will be out identifying homeless people in shelters, woods and in vacant buildings to get an accurate count.

“It’s important to get an accurate count because that helps bring dollars in to your community,” she said. “It goes towards the programs that assist the homeless, possibly finding permanent housing, or the services that are needed to get people out of homelessness.”

Those services include centers where the homeless can get showers, get a meal or two, and receive mail.

Last year, the New Jersery count found 8,532 homeless men, women and children in the Garden State, and 540 of those homeless people lived in Camden County.


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KYW Newsradio 1060’s Mark Abrams and Kim Glovas contributed to this report.