ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- As one of the most affluent county's in Florida, St. Johns isn't known for its homeless population.
"People don't think about it," says Debarah Redding, Program Coordinator for the Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County. "There are 1,365 homeless in St. Johns County, and that's a lot for a county that has 190,000 people."
At the end of every January, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires every county in every state in the country to complete an annual "Point in Time" count and survey of the homeless. Each county is given 24 hours, and on odd-numbered years, like 2013, they must check every shelter and homeless camp in the county. On Tuesday, Redding and 35 volunteers set out on foot from Ponte Vedra to Hastings to South St. Augustine.
"This is a big deal for us because the numbers that we get will determine the amount of funding that comes to St. Johns County this year," Redding explained. "It will tell the President and Congress how are we doing with homelessness, are the numbers going up, are they going down, and if is funding being used appropriately."
Redding says local agencies are suffering from cuts made last year at the state and federal level, and providing services is increasingly difficult.
"Because we're small, we don't have some of the same services as some of the metropolitan areas, so it's a tough place to be."
Redding says numbers dipped slightly in the last survey, taken in January 2012, except in the area of homeless families, which have increased due to the economy.
"Six years ago we had 50 homeless children enrolled in our school system, now we have 580."
She says the information gathered in the survey will be compiled in a report for the state by April, which will then send a full report from all Florida counties to Washington for Congressional review.
The Duval County Point in Time count will take place on Wednesday.