OGDEN, Utah – The homeless population in Weber and Davis Counties could see a significant increase – due to Operation Rio Grande.
Every January, local homeless service providers across the country conduct a head count of the homeless population. Beginning on Jan. 25, volunteers in Weber and Davis counties will hit the streets.
“What we're trying to do is get a good accurate count of the number of homeless people we see sleeping on the street,” said Andi Beadles, executive director for the Weber Housing Authority.
Beadles heads up the Point in Time Count in Weber County. Volunteers will ask homeless people questions to learn more about them and hand out hygiene kits.
“What this does is it gives the state an accurate count so that we can bring resources to our area and also to the state,” said Beadles.
Beadles is expecting a jump in the homeless population.
“This is a really critical year for us for the count,” she said.
With the launch of Operation Rio Grande in the summer of 2017, homeless people were pushed out to other communities. This year’s count will give them the data to know exactly where they went.
“In the past we know the homeless population. We know who's sleeping where. We know them by name. They know us,” said Beadles. “This year we're coming across homeless individuals that we don't know, that are rougher population then what we've seen in the past.”
Beadles says they’re taking safety precautions. Ogden police will accompany volunteers and volunteers will be required to carry mace.
The ultimate goal Beadles says is to end homelessness. They don’t want an Operation Rio Grande on their hands.
“It's always something we're thinking about and preparing for. Right now we're taking action, we're in the process of coming up with a plan so we can avoid anything like that here in our community.”
Volunteers are needed in Weber and Davis counties.
Participants are expected to attend a 2-hour training at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 24 at Safe Harbor Crisis Center at 225 N. Adamswood Rd. in Layton.
To sign up for the Davis County count, volunteers are asked to attend a training on Jan. 24, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Safe Harbor Crisis Center. Volunteers must register at www.volunteermatch.org, www.justserve.org or by calling 801-444-3191.