Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Homeless census underway in Manatee County: Cold weather forced the homeless to the Salvation Army shelter in Bradenton, which housed 149 on Sunday night, 47 over capacity, according to Robert Greubel, the men's lodge manager.

With all 102 beds filled, the men found sleep on mats and blankets in the TV room.

"We do what we can. We try not to turn anybody away when it gets cold," said Greubel, who expects to see just as many men throughout the cold snap. "It's pretty much given on nights like this."

Meanwhile, on the eve of the coldest day of the year to date, the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness has joined with 45 local agencies to administer a 24-hour bicounty census, which began at noon Monday and ends at noon today.

The homeless survey is required by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development to take place during the last seven days of January, when the cold is more likely to drive them to shelters, said Adrienne Lazeroff, executive director of Suncoast Partnership to End Homeless.

"It's quite literally a snapshot of who is homeless at a particular time," she said. "It's very likely we will see many more people seek shelter because people in this climate may not have winter jackets and heavy blankets. No one wants to sleep outside when it's 34 degrees."

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