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Feb 6, 2011 1:07 PM by Chris Welty

LA Homeless Health to be Polled

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The state of Louisiana has been going
into urban areas to first identify homeless people with serious
health issues and then focus on finding housing for them.
Randy Nichols, executive director of the Capital Area Alliance
for the Homeless, told The Advocate that although Georgia is
looking at participating as well, it appears Louisiana would become
the first state to complete the survey portion of the work.
The project started with research by Dr. Jim O'Connell with
Boston's Health Care for the Homeless into the causes of early
death among the homeless. The New York-based nonprofit Common
Ground created a vulnerability index.
Nichols said that index was used to identify homeless people
with the most threatening health conditions and get them into
housing.
Every year, the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless and
member agencies conduct a "point in time" count of the homeless
population, Nichols said. This year, that survey will also include
more questions about the health of the people surveyed from Feb. 22
through Feb. 24, Nichols said.
Volunteers conduct the surveys at gathering points for homeless
services and also will try to locate people who may not access
services, but are living on the streets, Nichols said.
After assessing the need, people are selected to move into
housing and receive supportive services to help them become more
self-sufficient, take care of health needs and stay in housing,
Nichols said.
The final step is to follow up with the participants for a year
to be able to measure how many formerly homeless people remain in
housing, he said.
"I'm confident we'll be able to re-house some people," Nichols
said. "We hope we'll start housing people in April, certainly by
May."

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