Volunteers hit Fresno streets to count growing homeless population

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The three day initiative is aimed at identifying and surveying the regions most vulnerable. (KFSN)

Melissa Mikel has worked for Fresno Housing Authority since 2009 but for three days she and 125 volunteers are representing Fresno Madera Continuum of Care.

For more than a decade the organization has made the annual Point in Time count. The three-day initiative is aimed at identifying and surveying the regions most vulnerable.

"We can look at, not just housing individuals but as we continue to research our homeless population maybe look at prevention," Mikel said.

The count identifies gaps in services or housing and is used as the primary data source for federal agencies.

Dozens gathered at the Fresno headquarters where city leaders expressed the importance of community involvement.

Poverello House Director Cruz Avila said, "There is a lot of need and pinpointing that exact and direct need is where those conversations are taking place now."

"There's definitely not a lack of motivation to do this work and help people find housing, we have a lack of inventory and funding to support that inventory," Jody Ketcheside Vice Chair Fresno Madera Continuum of Care said. "They're out of their cars, they're looking behind dumpsters, they're looking, they're knocking on abandoned buildings, they're looking for people that are homeless."

The cities were broken up by zip code but this is the first year that this count is being done with the no-camping ordinance in place.

"The camping ban was never meant to be a solution to homelessness it was a response to activity," Mark Standriff said. "To see if there's anything we can do to start the process of finding the treatment of finding the services and most importantly the housing that they need."

The City of Fresno's Mark Standriff says this count helps in understanding the extent of homelessness and changes in trends.

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