About 300 volunteers canvas San Mateo County to count homeless population

300 volunteers canvass San Mateo County to count homeless population

in Community

About 300 volunteers canvassed streets, parks, creek beds, underpasses and other public spaces throughout San Mateo County this morning as part of the “point-in-time” One Day Count of people experiencing homelessness.

The count was organized by the County’s Human Services Agency and began at 5 a.m. After meeting at deployment sites across the County, volunteers were sent out in pairs to cover assigned areas, according to the County.

The results of the One Day Count aims to help County officials assess how to best serve individuals experiencing homelessness.

“The count gives us critical information we and our partners can use to best target funding and services,” County Manager Mike Callagy said.

Ken Cole, director of the County’s Human Services Agency, added that the ultimate goal is to return those experiencing homelessness to permanaent housing.

Data from the One Day Count will be publicly released later this year. In the last count held in 2019, over 1,500 people were counted as experiencing homelessness, of whom over 900 were unsheltered and a significant number lived in RVs.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counties to conduct the count every two years to access federal funds used for homeless services, but the 2021 count was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Soon, there will be expanded options in which to house the unsheltered. The County acquired $117 million in state Homekey funds that is being used to turn former hotels into shelters and transitional housing and to build a 240-bed shelter and navigation center in Redwood City that will provide intensive counseling and other support services, officials said.

Photo: Volunteers gather at a staging site to receive assignments (Courtesy of San Mateo County)