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Pinellas County leaders: Number of homeless people increasing across Tampa Bay

Officials with the homeless alliance did a count of the unsheltered individuals on the streets Thursday.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Hundreds of volunteers hit the streets in Pinellas County to count the number of homeless people in the Tampa Bay area community.

Dozens of homeless people met with volunteers at Williams Park in St Petersburg.

Counting the number of unsheltered people in the county helps officials know what resources are needed.

"We want to use this data we collect today to help more people find homes," Homeless Leadership Alliance of Pinellas CEO Monika Alesnik explained.

The goal is to limit the number of people on the streets.

An official with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development told 10 Tampa Bay that homelessness exists throughout Florida. Alesia Scott-Ford is a field office director for HUD and she explained the number of homeless people is a major problem in metropolitan areas like Tampa Bay. 

She went with volunteers on the homeless count to get an idea of what resources are needed in Pinellas County. 

"I can talk with the housing authority and some of our partners about the need in this community," Scott-Ford added.

Homeless people in St. Pete said there isn't enough affordable housing. One homeless man named Jack said he's been on the streets for the last two and a half years and a lot has changed.

"There was a very serious change in this city. It’s pricing half the community out. Middle class disappears," Jack explained. 

Officials said by counting the number of unsheltered people, they will have data to compare to years prior. 

Hillsborough County is preparing for its homeless count on Feb. 23.

The "Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative" need 650 volunteers. You can sign up online

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