Raleigh, N.C. — Volunteers involved in a nationwide effort to reach out to the homeless hit the streets in Wake and Orange counties early Wednesday to find people who need housing and other help.
The United Way of the Greater Triangle is organizing the 100,000 Homes Initiative locally. Officials estimate 2,000 people live on the streets in the Triangle, but organizers hope the count will give them better information as to where and how the homeless are living.
Volunteer Jim Green said he got involved with the effort because his brother has been homeless in the past.
"It's affected my family and me ... It's an emotional connection for me," Green said. "Hopefully, we can start identifying the people who are most at risk of dying on the street, and we can use that information to try and get them housing."
He and others gathered at 4 a.m. with some food and supplies and ventured out in the darkness with Raleigh police to search areas where the homeless often congregate.
Checking the woods around some downtown businesses, they came across abandoned camps, discarded bottles and a smoldering fire.
In addition to handing out supplies, volunteers tried to gather information from the homeless, including details about their health and daily nutrition, how often they get medical attention and what led to them living on the streets.
Jim Dooley said he's lived near some south Raleigh railroad tracks for six years and has no intention of leaving.
"I don't live in shelters. I don't deal with them," Dooley told the volunteers.
The 100,000 Homes Initiative will compile information nationwide and use that data to better direct services to those in need.