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Santee Mayor Volunteers in Annual Homeless Count

Santee Mayor Randy Voepel was among the hundreds of volunteers surveying the homeless Friday morning- promising an accurate local count.

Hundreds of volunteers fanned out across San Diego County Friday morning to , and Santee Mayor Randy Voepel was among the volunteers counting in Santee.

The San Diego County Regional Taskforce on the Homeless (RTFH) organized the annual count, which began around 5 a.m. and was expected to last until 8 a.m. The tally is used to help the county receive federal money to address local homeless issues.

Last year, by RTFH as living in the Santee area, and and fewer homeless reside in the city.

"Santee has ALWAYS had 12-15 homeless people (mostly in the River Bottom), this is . For you to raise our count to 58, either reflects poor counting methods or cheating. Change your count to reflect reality sir," Voepel wrote in a letter to RTFH.

, the Executive Director of RTFH, came to a city council meeting last year to defend the count and its methods. No change in the count was made, but Voepel later vowed to .

"Lastly, I would like to take you up on your invitation to participate in next year’s count, assuming my schedule is open, especially in the morning.  I will work with our Sheriff’s to make sure we know where our homeless hooch’s are," wrote Mayor Voepel, in his reply to Callstrom. 

And, he lived up to that promise by participating in Friday's count.

Last year, 9,020 people were found to be living in shelters or on the street countywide, an increase of nearly 6 percent over the prior year, according to the taskforce.

Slightly more than half of the total number of homeless last year were living unsheltered.

Santee Patch will report more on this issue when data becomes available.

-City News Service contributed to this report

ROBERTA LAMBERT March 28, 2013 at 06:13 PM
Do you just go round counting, or do you go with a plan. Like offering different routes for these people to take. If they are able to carry through with any help you offer, if they really try ? What plan do you offer them ? Just ask them to leave ? Just wondering what options they might be offered.

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