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Mecklenburg conducts homeless census tonight

For 24 hours beginning tonight at midnight, homeless shelters, soup kitchens and other nonprofits will count the number of people they serve. Police will tally those they find camping under bridges and in alleys. Mecklenburg County Homeless Services Director Peter Safir says the area's homeless population can appear small, since relatively few actually sleep on the streets and in parks. But he says, that's deceiving "because of the number of nonprofits and faith-based organizations and government ones that homelessness is largely out of sight in Charlotte compared to other communities I've been in. But it is a very significant issue for this community. And it's aggravated, by the sub-prime and foreclosure business." Last January, the count estimated 5,300 homeless people in Mecklenburg County. Over the summer, Safir says an updated count found the homeless population had grown by at least a thousand.