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Hundreds To Volunteer For Annual San Diego Homeless Count

Volunteers Barbara Palan and Shannon Quigley-Raymond help out in San Diego's 2013 homeless census.

In the early hours of Friday morning, about 1,300 volunteers will spread out across San Diego County for the annual homeless count.

Volunteers for WeAllCount, coordinated by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, will work from 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. to get an accurate point-in-time count of the number of homeless people in the county.

Kris Michell, the president of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, said the count is important because federal funding is based on the number of homeless. But, she said, it's also more than that.

"We also take the opportunity to survey individuals to really understand their particular situation," she said. "It helps us because we've found as we've been embarking on this process for the last three, four years, there isn't just one reason that people are homeless."

"The more we understand about the individuals that are on the streets, the greater likelihood it is that we will help them," she added.

Last year, volunteers counted about 8,900 homeless in the county, a decrease of about 8 percent from the year before. Michell said she couldn't predict whether that number will rise or fall this year.

"It's such an individual issue," she said. "We started out this and quickly recognized there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to homelessness."

She said the Downtown San Diego Partnership is in the process of hiring two additional homeless coordinators, who will join existing coordinator Kelly Knight.

Homeless coordinators are on the streets during the count to build trusting relationships with homeless people, Michell said.

Local leaders including Congressman Scott Peters, state Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, Supervisor Greg Cox, interim Mayor Todd Gloria and San Diego City Councilmembers Sherri Lightner, David Alvarez, Mark Kersey and Scott Sherman will also volunteer.

Evening Edition

Above: Hundreds of volunteers fanned across San Diego County in 2013 to get an accurate count of the region’s homeless population. KPBS business and environment reporter Erik Anderson said it's easy to canvas urban regions, but volunteers are also scouring out of the way places, like the San Diego River.

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