The state of Utah is counting its homeless population tonight. But rather than doing a head count, local shelters will take a tally of those who come in seeking help.
The purpose of the yearly count is to have reliable numbers on how many Utahns are homeless and how much money and resources are needed to help them.
Gordon Walker, with the Division of Housing and Community Development, says tonight might be a long night for counting. "We think there's going to be a big increase among homelessness this year. One of the biggest increases will be among families. The mortgage crisis and people losing their homes is a big cause," he said.
The homeless population is usually divided into two categories: the general homeless and the chronically homeless. The general homeless include those who have been laid off, can't find work and need some help to get back on their feet. The chronic homeless are those who, even with help, choose to be homeless or cannot maintain a home.
Last year, chronic homelessness decreased by 15 percent. Hopefully, that number will go down even more this year, but we won't know until the surveys are in. The numbers are expected to be released sometime within the next two months.