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Volunteers needed to count area homeless
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Volunteers are needed to help administer a count of Newton County's homeless population for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The count will take place at various agencies around the county including Newton Medical Center, the Newton County Detention Center and the Newton County Health Department from Aug. 20 through Aug. 24.

"We're hoping that the service providers in Newton County can really utilize this information," said Elizabeth Runkle, coordinator for Pathways Community Network, a non-profit organization working with the DCA to organize the count.

The goal of the count - which will encompass the whole county - is to get an accurate idea of how many people in the county are homeless or are precariously housed and likely to become homeless and to find out what their needs are in order to plan better for the long-term needs of this segment of the county's population.

Volunteers are needed to assist service providers in collecting data during the count.

 Runkle said that volunteers will be placed inside various county agencies during the week of the count to briefly interview homeless persons.

There will be two training sessions for volunteers. The first will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday in the council room of Covington City Hall. The second will take place at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the same location. Both sessions are expected to last approximately 30 minutes said Runkle.

While the county's sole homeless shelter, Rainbow Covenant Ministries, conducts a yearly count of the people that it houses, the Rev. Clara Lett who runs the shelter said this is the first time that a count has been taken of the whole county.

In addition, Runkle said the count will be instrumental in a mathematical model that the DCA and Kennesaw State University are currently working on. Based on Newton County's count and the counts of nine other Georgia counties, the model will predict the number of homeless and precariously housed individuals living throughout the state.

Having the model will allow the DCA to continue to receive federal funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development said Runkle.

Interested volunteers can contact Runkle at (404) 639-9933 ex. 322 or by e-mail at