Last year, almost 3,000 people lived in Bexar County without a home. They are fathers, sons, mothers and daughters who often seem invisible. Thursday night, hundreds of volunteers hit the streets to update the count of the homeless population.
Each encounter is a chance to get basic information from the individual, sort of like a census.
“We try to give incentives to people giving us their time for an interview… so this [bucket] has socks, cookies, little snacks, and toiletries," one volunteer said.
The South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless, or SARAH, uses an app to help keep count.
“It tells you your location, it asks you were you were sleeping on the night of the count, your first and last name, and date of birth,” said one of the volunteers.
400 volunteers are expected to count up to a thousand people on the streets. But there are hundreds more in shelters, and others who simply don't want the help.
“There's a lot of mental health issues, addiction, and substance abuse,” said SAPD Police Chief William McManus. “You could offer some of the homeless folks a 5-star hotel room and they wouldn't take you up on it… so that's a big part of the problem,” he said.
The objective is to reduce homelessness and provide permanent housing, especially for our veterans.
The data will also help Bexar County compete for housing dollars from the government.
And this year, there's a new question on the survey which might impact the numbers.
“We’re asking them if they are victims that have become homeless as a result of Hurricane Harvey,” SARAH's Bill Hubbard said.