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New tactic used during homeless count; officers try reuniting homeless with family

Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-23 17:55:54-05

Dozens of volunteers spanned Hillsborough County on Thursday for the annual homeless census. The census determined there were about 1,800 homeless people in Hillsborough County during 2016. Organizers are hoping for a decrease in 2017.

Officer Randi Whitney’s efforts may help decrease the amount of people living in the streets. She has been working as Tampa’s homeless liaison officer for about year.

“So far it has been very successful, a lot of people during the winter months they come down here to the south,” said Whitney.

She refers homeless people to shelters and offers them services, but she’s found sending people back to where they came from generally helps keep them off the streets.

“We do our best to reunite them with the support system that they have,” said Whitney.

She’s reunited about a dozen people with their families over the past year. She said it’s been a successful process.

“I want them to be happy productive members of society and to never live on the street again, nobody wants to live on the street,” said Whitney.

Some of the popular areas for the homeless to live are near downtown and Ybor City. Whitney said the homeless population tends to live near homeless service centers.

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