ACCESS conducts homeless population count in Jackson County

Medford, Ore.- ACCESS will conduct its annual homeless count Monday night to see how many people in Jackson County are living on the streets.

According to ACCESS, more than 600 people were homeless last year in the county. This year, they think that number could be even higher. That’s why ACCESS is getting out on the streets to help as many people as it can.

ACCESS volunteer, Diana Cooper is looking for people who are homeless in Jackson County.

“Anything that is 24 hours or is open late is a place where I’m going to want to stop at,” Cooper said.

She understands firsthand what it’s like to live on the streets.

“My family and I were homeless for awhile,” she said.

Now, she’s helping those who have been in her position to try and back on their feet.

“It hits home because I want them to feel as human as I didn’t feel,” Cooper said.

Monday night, more than a dozen ACCESS volunteers went out to survey those on the streets, camps or people living in their cars.

“It’s important for me to not just get the information I need but to assess their needs and you kind of have to do it intuitively,” she said.

The data will help the Housing and Urban Development administration know how much money to give to different counties and help agencies determine how to better serves the homeless population.

“It’s not just about getting the funding but helping people out in real time,” said Cooper.

For Diana it’s about more than collecting data, it’s about encouraging people, and connecting them with many of the services they didn’t know existed.

“It’s not easy, like you can be clean off drugs, clean off alcohol, even in school and still be homeless because it’s just that hard to get out,” Cooper said.

Volunteers will be handing out backpacks filled with items such as blankets, gloves, socks and toiletries, as well as dog food for those with pets.

More than a dozen volunteers will be helping in Monday’s count.

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