A statewide count of Wyoming's homeless population is scheduled for January 26, according to an official with the Wyoming Department of Family Services.

Karla McClaren is the homeless program manager with DFS. She said each county is handling a survey of the local homeless population.

She said there is a two-pronged approach to counting homeless people in communities across the state. One facet consists of teams of volunteers who do ''street counts" by going out on the streets and counting people who are ''living in dwellings not meant for human habitation."

She says the other part of the count involves events to draw homeless people in to be counted. Such events in many cases offer homeless people clothing, food, medical checkups or other items or services. McClaren says the totals of the two counts are then compiled on a county-by-county basis, with those totals added together to get a county total.

The county totals are then compiled for a statewide estimate of the homeless population. McClaren says the numbers are used to give homelessness programs an idea of how they are performing, who is being helped and what changes need to be made.

Federal Housing and Urban Development grants are also made on the basis of the surveys in every state. McClaren said the statewide count in Wyoming last year found 879 homeless people in Wyoming.

While she didn't have the county-by-county numbers available, she said the state's two largest cities, Cheyenne and Casper, generally also have the largest homeless populations.

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