BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — The Raleigh County Community Action Association began conducting their annual homeless count January 26, 2022.

The organization and its volunteers venture out into Raleigh and Greenbrier counties to survey the homeless in the area. The goal is to determine the population of high risk homeless individuals in the region.

“The folks that are out tonight, as cold as it is, are our highest risk individuals because most people will seek out other shelter this evening so this is absolutely crucial to get to those highest risk individuals,” Marketing and Development Specialist Leah Deitz-Jackson said.

Data from the annual survey is submitted to the West Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is then used to determine which programs in the RCCAA need improvement and how much funding is needed to address homelessness in the region.

“Talking to these individuals and figuring out what prevents them from seeking out help, we can better design our programs and better give them what they need,” Deitz-Jackson said.

Volunteers will hand out blankets and essential supplies to the homeless in the area, those kits will also include information on how to access the organization’s services.

The survey will be completed January 27, 2022. From there, the RCCAA said they will work to provide warm shelter and sustainable housing to the homeless in the area.

Deitz-Jackson said the RCCAA is always looking for volunteers to assist with the annual survey, if you are interested in helping out next year you can reach out to the organization.