Volunteers gather before dawn for homeless count

Palo Alto among four cities across Santa Clara County participating in biennial census

About 500 people gathered in Palo Alto and other cities within Santa Clara County this week to conduct the biennial point-in-time count of homeless individuals.

The data is used to determine how much money the county needs to end a homelessness crisis in the region, and is organized by the county Office of Supportive Housing.

Continuum of Care manager Kathryn Kaminski said between 300 and 400 volunteers this year were joined by 100 guides, or individuals who work with homeless populations or have been recently homeless.

The count began at 4 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday in San Jose, Palo Alto, Gilroy and Mountain View. It's held early in the morning to include individuals in shelters before they are released for the day, and to ensure there isn't too much movement in and out of encampments.

Mayor Sam Liccardo attended the point-in-time count in San Jose and said the volunteer-based program is a vital census tool for determining resources throughout the year. According to Liccardo, law enforcement agencies stopped encampment sweeps in the recent weeks to ensure an accurate count.

"I'm grateful to the hundreds of volunteers who woke up before dawn to join us in this morning's biennial homeless count," Liccardo said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

In late December, community members held a vigil for 157 homeless individuals who died in the county over the previous year. The numbers have steadily risen over the last decade, along with the homeless population. The 2017 point-in-time count found 7,394 unsheltered and sheltered homeless individuals.

This year's count will be combined with results from 900 surveys distributed by guides in the following weeks. The survey includes questions regarding how an individual became homeless, how long they've been living on the streets and the challenges they face in various settings.

Kaminski said the survey typically has a high response rate because it is distributed by paid volunteers who are either members of the homeless community, or those who conduct year-round outreach.

"They're already building those relationships," Kaminski said. "They're not just random volunteers who are doing the surveys."

The county will spend the next several months analyzing the data, ensuring there is no double-counting and will present the final report in late June.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


7 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2019 at 7:38 am

"Paid volunteers" is an oxymoron!

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Peek inside the fine-dining Selby's, opening in Redwood City this summer
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 2,896 views

Juggling Renewables
By Sherry Listgarten | 42 comments | 2,127 views

Homestead Faire at Hidden Villa 4/27
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 933 views

Premarital and Couples: "You're Not Listening to Me!" may mean "I don't feel heard."
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 693 views


Best of Mountain View ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Mountain View" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 19th issue of the Mountain View Voice.