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Police agencies brave the cold for homeless count

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - At least 10 police agencies in Kalamazoo County are braving the cold, trying to count the number of homeless people they see tonight.

Kalamazoo County, like many others, is facing a possible cut in federal funding next year--money that the county uses to fight homelessness.

So the count is very important, as it will be used to determine future funding.

Kalamazoo police graciously allowed Newschannel 3 to ride along Wednesday night as they looked for anyone without a home who needed help.

It's all part of a federal project mandated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help fight homelessness.

It's called a 'point in time' count, done in every county across the state this week, to count those living on the street in hand-built structures, or shelters.

"It's pretty much a top priority, with the weather as cold as it is, people cannot survive in these types of temperatures too awful long outside," said Sergeant David Juday, who participated in the count Wednesday night.

Kalamazoo County receives about $2 million per year for continual care and help for the homeless.

There's about 6,000 homeless people and families in the county, and right now, 10 police agencies are working on locating them this week.

But the county is anticipating a 5 percent cut in federal funding this year for an issue where agencies tell Newschannel 3 that they can't meet the need of everybody.

They say they're already dealing with waiting lists and long lines for affordable housing.

Most people we came across Wednesday night were heading to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission for a warm place to stay.

A full report will come together over the next six weeks, which could determine how much funding the county receives.