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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Hundreds of volunteers prepared to hit the streets in order to join a nationwide effort to count the number of unhoused residents. 

Whether it is encampments or cars used as living spaces, researchers, advocates and ordinary residents said it appears those numbers are growing in Sacramento County. 

But it’s been three years since there have been official figures to back that up. 

“When you’re advocating like I am, anecdotal information only takes you so far,” said Joe Smith, advocate at Loaves and Fishes. 

Smith headed out Wednesday to help crews get concrete information. The U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department mandates jurisdictions carry out the Point-in-Time Count every two years to receive federal funding for homeless services —Last year’s count was canceled due to COVID-19. 

“So, this is a very much anticipated count, so we’re looking forward to having over 700 volunteers assisting us,” said Lisa Bates, CEO of Sacramento Steps Forward. 

SSF is a nonprofit that stepped out Wednesday, and will again Thursday, on behalf of Sacramento city and county governments. They will be stopping by camps, cars, street corners, anywhere they find unsheltered people. 

“It gives us real data about who’s experiencing homelessness; why they’re experiencing homelessness,” Bates said. 

The last PIT survey in 2019 showed on any given night 5,570 people are experiencing homelessness in Sacramento County, with an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 unhoused people each year. 

It’s a 19% jump from the previous count in 2017.  Smith said they are expecting double what they saw in 2019. 

Bates said those numbers will ideally help shape policy going forward. 

“It helps us create solutions and decisions about how we’re going to address homelessness in our community,” Smith said.