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Homeless census starts tonight


**UPDATE 1-29-15** Strategies to End Homelessness has secured $15.3 million dollars from a HUD grant.  

A press release from the group on Wednesday says Hamilton County and Cincinnati are sharing in $1.8 billion in grants to be distributed nationwide,  announced in the last week.  

Locally, several different organizations will receive funding: Bethany House Services, The Center for Independent Living Options, Center for Respite Care, Caracole, CincySmiles, Drop Inn Center, Excel Development, Freestore Foodbank, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Lighthouse Youth Services, Goodwill, Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, Salvation Army, Talbert House, Tender Mercies, and the YWCA.

**Original story**

Volunteers and social workers will be conducting a census of Hamilton County's homeless tonight.  The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities to make the count once a year.  Kevin Finn is director of Strategies to End Homelessness, and says the results determine where federal grants should go.

“HUD funding is allocated to the local governments.  In our case, they allocate money to the City of Cincinnati and to Hamilton County,” Finn says.  “Then locally, we work with the city and the county to make sure that money is used to help homeless people become formerly homeless people.”

Finn says says the federal government requires the count be done in the last week of January, for a couple of reasons.  “We want to get as accurate of a count as possible.  So, counting in the middle of winter does increase the chances of people coming into shelters, where there’s a far greater chance that they do get counted.”

And Finn says those people who receive benefits are more likely to be out of funds by the end of the month, and will probably be more easily found.

“We try to get just a little bit of information from people to make sure that we don’t duplicate count anyone,” he says.

Finn says for weeks, outreach workers have been taking note of where homeless people have been finding shelter on the streets, and planned to return to those locations overnight.

The results of the effort should be released within three to four weeks.