Volunteers are needed to help determine the scope of suburban homeless in the area.
The biennial census will be conducted in the early morning hours of Jan. 24 through Jan. 26 around Cook County, including Oak Park.
Teams of volunteers will fan out to shelters and other locations to conduct the count. They also will be looking for people who are living in cars, or riding the El trains to find shelter.
Nancy Ford, the development director at West Suburban PADS, which coordinates programs and services for the homless in the Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park area, noted that the latter two means mask the real magnitude of homelessness.
The effort, required by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, also will help determine if more programs are needed to curb suburban homelessness.
Prior experience isn't required to help with the census, but volunteers must take a two-hour, in-person training class, or an online webinar, in order to help out.
The census is being coordinated by the Alliance to End Homeless in Suburban Cook County. West Suburban PADS, Vital Bridges and the Unified Service Plan of Oak Park Township are part of this coalition.