Survey of Homeless Aims To Improve Social Services

February 25, 2005

A team of 30 government employeesand non-profit organization volunteers hitthe streets of San José last week to undertakean unusual task: finding, interviewand recording data about hundreds ofhomeless people in need of assistance.The goal is “a real solution,” MargaritaVásquez, project coordinator for the MixedInstitute for Social Aid (IMAS) told TheTico Times Feb. 16 in the city’s CentralPark, watching other IMAS and municipalemployees interview the homeless peoplewho spend their days there.She added that while the institute haskept records of the homeless populationbefore, only those who sought help atshelters or soup kitchens were recorded.This effort, on the other hand, seeks toinclude those who do not receive anysocial services.Volunteers from the Salvation Armyand the non-profit Hogar Crea joined in tohand out sandwiches, help identify homelesspeople they have worked with, andaid the institute and municipality in identifying23 “hot spots” with high homelesspopulations, Vásquez said.Survey organizers are gathering participants’personal data as well as backgroundinformation such as the length oftime they have spent on the street, or theirhistory of drug use.The initial phase of the survey, completedFeb. 15-17, counted 234 homelesspeople. An additional nocturnal phase isin the works to reach still more people,said Carmen Azofeifa, spokeswoman forthe Municipality of San José.The IMAS and municipality are nowprocessing and analyzing the data from theinitial survey, a process Azofeifa saidwould take approximately one month.

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