Nearly 60 volunteers hit the streets in Wake and Orange counties before dawn three days this week, carrying hot coffee, blankets and a meal for people sleeping on church stoops, under bridges and on cold concrete.
The group is part of a national project called 100,000 Homes that works to combat homelessness in communities across America by surveying homeless people. The volunteers asked:
"How long has this episode of homelessness lasted?"
"Is there a counselor or care provider who you've worked with that you trust?"
"Do you have any medical problems? Were you recently released from jail, prison, or a substance-abuse center?"
One team met a woman sleeping outside who is eight months pregnant.
"Our goal is to find out the needs of the people who are on the streets," said Stan Holt, vice president of regional initiatives for the United Way. "We are going to be able to say, 'This person is sickest, and they need to get housed the quickest.' "
The effort was organized by three local nonprofits: United Way, the Wake County Partnership to End Homelessness, and the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness.
The 100,000 Homes campaign is a national movement to create a registry of who is living on the streets, with the goal of providing housing for 100,000 of the country's most vulnerable people by 2013. The campaign claims to have housed 11,751 people.