Thousands of volunteers and outreach workers count the nation's homeless population each year. But "communities are worried this year that such interactions could exacerbate the spread of the coronavirus, putting both volunteers and homeless individuals at risk," Pam Fessler reports for NPR. "So with the permission of the Department of Housing and Urban Development — which requires the survey for federal grants — many places are scaling back."
That could leave a big gap in nationwide data about the homeless, a population that has been growing steadily in rural and urban areas since 2015, Fessler reports. The delayed or canceled count could also make it harder to get congressional funding for homeless assistance programs.