A biennial count of San Francisco’s homeless population will take place Thursday evening, with a record number of volunteers hitting the streets to explore the nooks and crannies of The City.
The count is organized by the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, to get a rough number of how many people are living on The City’s streets. This data will then be used to apply for funding for homelessness programs, and to track the situation over time. The last count was conducted in 2015; an in-depth study of the numbers can be found here.
For the sake of the study, someone living with homelessness is described as a person “living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangement; or with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground.”
Accuracy is encouraged, but it’s understood that the count will never be completely exact—despite the hard work of volunteers, it’s just not possible to find and count every homeless person in San Francisco. In addition, it’s not easy to determine if someone is actually without a home, or just appears to be.
But this year the numbers might be a bit more precise, thanks to a high turnout of volunteers. More than 750 people have signed up to walk and drive across San Francisco in groups of three or four, covering every single street in The City.
Volunteers will gather at the Department of Public Health near Civic Center at 7 p.m. this evening before spreading out across San Francisco.