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York group monitors city's homeless and brings supplies

Every day a team of two walks through York, meeting people where they are.

YORK, Pa. — Every day a team of two walks around York, meeting people where they are.

“We’re all just people and just to respect each other, some of us currently live in a home [and for] some people their home happens to be a tent or a car,” said Robin Shear, who is often part of the team.

Shear is the executive director of Friends and Neighbors of Pennsylvania, a nonprofit that monitors the unsheltered population in York County. Outreach coordinators maintain a map of about 300 people throughout York City and York County. They bring supplies to individuals as needed.

“We call it survival gear,” Shear said. “We have a bag. It’ll have a zero-degree sleeping bag, thermals, whatever we [can] get [for] people [who] stay outside to stay alive.”

Supplies are sorely needed in the winter, when the elements are less forgiving.

With snow expected in just a few hours on Wednesday, outreach coordinators Jory Tobias and Nick McMichael began their daily 11-mile check.

Most of the sites they passed were empty, with trash or camping gear the only evidence that someone had been there. That’s normal in the winter, Tobias said.

“The unsheltered are the most generous people I know,” he said. “If you get into a place and you know people out on the street, you don’t want them freezing. So they will invite friends in just to make sure that they’re ok. But that might violate their lease, and so they get kicked out when that’s found out and now everyone’s back on the street.”

On Thursday, Friends and Neighbors will participate in York County’s point-in-time homeless count for a more accurate number of people they serve. Shear said she expected the number to have increased from last year.

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