PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Doorways of Northwest Florida is gearing up for its annual Point-In-Time (PIT) housing survey.

Every year in January, the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires communities to tally their homeless population.

“Why that count is so important is because the six counties and the charities involved in this get their funding from the federal government and state government due to the count,” Doorways Director Michael Thomas said. “So if we come in with a low count or an inaccurate count, the six-county area is shorted funds to help the homeless.”

Doorways covers Bay, Holmes Washington, Calhoun, Gulf, and Jackson counties.

With so much ground to cover, Doorways is asking the community to help them with the population survey.

“We do our best to rally the community and see if they can come on board and help us out with this because there’s a lot of people to reach with a lot of territory to cover,” Shawn Kieffer with Doorways said. “Six counties is pretty big.”

The more accurate the count, the more money the federal government provides to combat homelessness.

“Whether it’s helping somebody get housed, rehoused,” Kieffer said. “Some people, they just find themselves out. Everybody is so close to that one thing and you find yourself homeless. So we partner with those agencies that will help you with your rent. They will help you with your utilities. They will give you food. They will give you shelter.”

Doorways needs volunteers to ask people they suspect are struggling where they slept on the designated night for the count.

“Having people, whether they’re volunteers, whether they need service hours, whether they want to make a donation through a certificate of some kind, whatever they can do to actually put themselves out there and help us count people,” Kieffer said. “We are literally counting people.”

The night selected for the survey is January 25th and data can be collected from the 26th through the 30th.

Visit their Facebook page for more information on how to volunteer. You can also call (850) 819-0360.