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American River Messenger

Record Number of Volunteers Count People Experiencing Homelessness

Jan 30, 2024 03:11PM ● By Sacramento Steps Forward News Release

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - A two-night effort to count the number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness kicked off tonight at the primary deployment center at Sacramento State University’s Harper Alumni Center on College Town Drive. 

Hundreds of the more than 800 registered volunteers showed up at the University site and two additional locations, Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova, to receive their maps and directions to locations where unhoused neighbors are likely to be found, while officials from the city, county and state kicked off the effort by thanking volunteers and emphasizing the importance of the effort to understand and act on the homelessness crisis.

Sacramento Steps Forward Chief Executive Officer Lisa Bates told volunteers and Sacramento leaders gathered that “your presence sends a powerful message to those experiencing homelessness -- it says you are not alone. We see you. We hear you. And you count!”

Sacramento’s regional civic leaders have become more united than ever in addressing homelessness, taking responsibilities within an “All In” Local Action Plan finalized in 2022. This year the Plan is expanding to include more cities and significant community input and regional focus. The PIT Count data will be used as one measure of progress and help shape future programming to serve the unsheltered and others experiencing homelessness or at high risk.

It will take two nights to reach all the areas selected for the 2024 PIT Count. On Thursday night, additional volunteers will deploy from Sacramento as well as Elk Grove. Outreach workers employed by local agencies will conduct a separate count during daylight hours along the American River Corridor in the coming days.

All census takers will be using a new “Counting Us Mobile App” on their smart phones to conduct the Count. The application was developed by Simtech Solutions and is used in many cities and counties across the U.S. The new method will allow volunteers to gather observational and survey data and upload it to a central command center.  The new app replaces a previously used app and paper-based collection methods.

Point in Time unsheltered homelessness counts are conducted in communities across the nation every two years. They are mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development (HUD) for communities that seek federal resources to address homelessness.  HUD uses this information to create a comprehensive national picture. 

The last PIT community wide effort, held in 2022 in Sacramento,  accounted for 6,664 unsheltered individuals. The report, which takes several months to complete, also documented 2,614 sheltered individuals experiencing homelessness, for a combined total number of people experiencing homelessness of 9,278. The full 2022 PIT Count report can be referenced at the following website: https://sacramentostepsforward.org/continuum-of-care-point-in-time-pit-count/2022-pit-count/.

“We are grateful for this unprecedent turnout this year,” Bates said. “This effort gives ordinary citizens a chance to make a meaningful contribution toward better understanding where this community is when it comes to homelessness.  By being here, and working tonight and tomorrow night, they are making tangible contributions toward Sacramento’s united vision of preventing and ending homelessness.”