The South Alamo Regional Alliance For The Homeless says on any given day, there are 2,781 homeless in San Antonio. On Thursday night, that number gets its yearly update through the Point-in-Time Count as hundreds of volunteers will be hitting the streets to count the number of homeless.
The rally is to get those volunteers jazzed for a very important night in San Antonio. It is critical that they get an accurate count so the city can properly respond to homelessness and get federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
"It's been incredible preparing for this volunteer event. I feel very prepared," said Milby Hartwell, who is participating in the count for the first time. "They've done some YouTube videos, even had training about what to expect tonight, as well as safety videos."
"Tonight is really about getting our arms around the size and scope of homelessness in our community today. It's also getting our arms around people who need some comfort tonight," said Luke Leppla from the South Alamo Regional Alliance For The Homeless.
And this year, for the first time in the event's history, the Point In Time Count is paperless. Volunteers will record their observations using a mobile application called Counting Us on their smart phone. The app records GPS coordinates when the observation is made and, once it is submitted, it drops a pin onto a map allowing homeless service providers to look for patterns in homelessness throughout the city.
"Really accurate numbers are important, and high turnout for the event has been correlated to good data," Leppla said.
The first 200 volunteers, including five people along with a police escort, will begin the count throughout Bexar County just before 6 p.m. Every shelter with beds will count and submit their data at 8:30 p.m., and the last group of volunteers will count 16 zones in downtown starting at 10 p.m.