FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Melissa Mikel is at the beginning of a two-mile city sweep searching for Fresno's homeless.
The data they're collecting is crucial for federal agencies.
It's used to figure out how much funding is given to homeless services.
For Melissa, each number is more importantly a story.
"A lot of times our homeless get a bad rep or a bad stigma, but we don't know what their background is," she said.
Volunteers are digging deeper into this chronic problem.
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They were given survey questions by the Fresno/Madera Continuum of Care, asking how and why folks ended up in this lifestyle.
"One of new things we are looking at is exactly where in Fresno and Madera County did people actually become homeless, and if they have become homeless more than one time," said Jody Ketcheside.
For the last several years, homeless populations have been on the rise in Fresno -- growing nearly 15 percent in the last two years.
In 2018, there were nearly 1,700.
"So that's something else we can do guys, if we are walking around and it looks like someone is sleeping there," said
Volunteers will return over the course of the week to offer services.
They say no person should feel like a nobody on these streets.
Fresno's homeless population has grown nearly 15 percent in 2 years