FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --Volunteers are searching for the homeless in Fresno to get an accurate headcount in an effort to keep track of people who are sleeping on the streets.
The volunteers are making a difference and also building trust and giving hope to the homeless. And what has been seen are fewer people on the street for the past three years.
Leticia Martinez believes in the people she's trying to help and she's giving each of them a number. "We're just trying to count homeless individuals who are on the streets."
There's a lot to count on this street in downtown Fresno. Some people take shelter from the cold in tents, some are in the shadows, and others are in sleeping bags on the sidewalk.
One couple has been out here for two nights. One-half is happy where he's at, but the other said she's looking for a way out. "Get ourselves better-- like, money, organized aid."
She'll get some help if she really wants it but first, the volunteers have to comb the city to find every single homeless person they can. Which is something, City Council Member Clint Olivier said is vital. "Absolutely, let's count them. Let's find a way to connect them with services and then let's do a good job of actually hooking them up with organizations and folks who can actually help."
Last year's count was just over 1,700, roughly 800 less than 2014.
Jody Ketcheside is with the Fresno, Madera Continuum of Care. She said the numbers secured funding for mental health services, substance abuse, and also helped people find housing. "A lot of people don't know how to get help. A lot of them don't believe help is real, they don't trust anybody enough to take the help, and what it boils down to is getting out there on the streets."
Martinez is building that trust by going person-to-person taking a head count today, so she can help tomorrow.
The volunteers will all be back out here Wednesday. They'll be handing out supplies and trying to learn more about the problems people are facing in the streets.