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Lake County volunteers working on counting the homeless
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/23/2009 11:12 AM | Updated: 1/23/2009 5:30 PM

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With suburban homelessness expected to be on the rise this winter because of the recession, the foreclosure crisis and other factors, Lake County officials are working to count the local homeless population.

Volunteers combed parts of the county for four hours late Thursday night and early Friday morning to count homeless men, women and children for an annual census.

The results should be available early next week, county spokesman Joe Chekouras said.

The census is necessary for the county to receive $1 million in federal grant funds. But it's also an opportunity for county officials to learn about the homeless population and look for trends, officials have said.

Last year's census revealed 439 people who met the federal definition of homelessness. That figure was down about 11 percent from 2007.

But officials at homeless shelters throughout the suburbs have said this winter could see a record-setting demand for services.

For this year's Lake County census, 54 volunteers visited shelters, outdoors areas and other sites in about a dozen communities, including: Beach Park, Gurnee, Lake Bluff, Libertyville, Mundelein, North Chicago, Park City, the Round Lake-area towns, Waukegan and Zion.