MANATEE -- Last year's survey of homeless people in Bradenton showed a surprising and even unbelievable drop in the number of homeless residents -- from 1,069 to 724 in a year.
From noon Monday to noon Tuesday, Turning Points, a Bradenton non-profit whose mission is to serve the needy of Manatee County, and Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness in Sarasota will conduct its 2016 count of homeless people in Manatee and Sarasota.
The survey is done so Manatee and Sarasota county officials and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development can understand the scope of the homeless challenge, said Margi Dawson, a Turning Points' spokeswoman.
The data also determines local funding for homeless programs.
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"HUD wants to know who is homeless at a point in time so it can compare year to year," Dawson said.
The census is officially called the "Point-in-Time Homeless Survey," and it asks the homeless to answer 23 general questions, but it asks for their first names only, said Adele Erozer, Turning Points Executive Director.
"It's very important to point out that we only use the data and no personal information," Erozer said. "It's totally anonymous."
In 2015, Sarasota County had 1,365 homeless, an increase from 2014 which recorded 1,163 homeless, according to a report issued by Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness.
The 2015 Manatee survey recorded 676 homeless in the city of Bradenton, 45 in Palmetto and one in Anna Maria Island, according to the report.
Turning Points' 55 clipboard-carrying volunteers will take their questionnaires to food pantries and food kitchens, the Salvation Army and Turning Points patio area, Dawson said.
"Social workers from Centerstone of Florida go to the actual homeless camps to make a count," Dawson said.
This year's volunteers will be going out to 40 sites throughout Manatee County, Dawson said.
Turning Points has participated in the survey for more than 11 years, Erozer said.
Volunteers, who will go through a training class, are still needed, Dawson said. To volunteer or for more information: 941-747-1509.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.