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Volunteers Search For Homeless In Hillsborough

About 400 volunteers fanned out across Hillsborough County Thursday, searching for the homeless.

The annual one-day homeless count, lead by the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, helps local and federal governments determine how many resources they need to allocate for those in need.

Understanding how and why people are homeless is another focus of the Initiative.

Charles Mallard, a homeless man in north Tampa, explained the circumstances that lead to his homelessness.

"Well, I don't have no money," Mallard said. "No way to get any money. My mom had passed away and after that, I really had no place to stay of my own. Whenever I do get a little work I sleep at the motel, but I'm still pretty much homeless."

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Credit Christopher Collier / WUSF News
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WUSF News
Jerome Green

One of the volunteers, Jerome Green, said churches should take a more active role with the homeless in Hillsborough County.

"Some of them have people who have members of their church and they don't know it, but they're homeless," Green said. "They don't have a clue until they find out -- 'what do you mean she's living in a whatcha-ma-call-em --  she comes to church every Sunday dressed up' they say-- but she's homeless."

The amount of federal and state funding city and county officials get is based on how many homeless people are found. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development provides about $7 million annually to Hillsborough's homeless programs.

Organizers say the complete figures won't be available for at least a week. Last year, volunteers counted 1,931 homeless.