Volunteers fan out to count homeless in Alameda County

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Hundreds of volunteers on Wednesday morning fanned out through Alameda County to help count the number of homeless people.

In Oakland, there were 600 volunteers who arrived at City Hall by 5 a.m. to go block by block to count the number of people living on the streets, in camps, living in their cars, and living without shelter.

Similar scenes repeated themselves throughout the county. In Santa Clara County, a homeless count occurred on Tuesday and Contra Costa County is also conducting a count on Wednesday.

The homeless census is done every two years.

The last count in 2017 found there were more than 5,600 homeless people in Alameda County.

The concern is that that number has likely gone up because of high rents and the high cost of living here.

In order to do an accurate count, the 600 volunteers will navigate the city with the help of about 150 "homeless guides" people who've experienced homelessness at some point in their lives.

“The fact that we hire formerly unsheltered people… that’s what ensures this really is an accurate count,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf, adding that the intention is to be as “respectful as possible.”

Doing this count is a requirement of the federal government so that the county can get money to fund housing programs and social services to help the homeless.

Over the weekend, it was announced that Alameda County got $33.5 million from the last count to fund programs to help the homeless.