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Counting the Homeless: Volunteers Sought

A nonprofit coalition is organizing a homeless count in Milpitas in the early morning on June 28, and they are looking for volunteer surveyors.

The campaign, Housing 1000, seeks to cut chronic homelessness in half throughout the county by 2013, said Jennifer Loving, executive director ofDestination: Home, based in Campbell.

Throughout the county, volunteers are needed to register and identify homeless individuals and to gather data. The information will be entered into a database and used to prioritize and match those individuals with the greatness need with housing and services.

Already more than 300 volunteers have signed up for various roles, but the biggest need is for surveyors, approximately 600. The deadline to register online is June 20. Volunteers are required to attend a training in San Jose.

The detailed count, performed for the first time is different from the county’s count, conducted every two years.

“Ours is by name and by face,” said Loving. The questionnaire is scored in a way that prioritizes the most vulnerable, those most likely to die early, she said.

According to the standard count conducted by the county every two years, Milpitas’ homeless population doubled from 70 to 138, said Felix Reliford, a senior planner with city. The last count was taken January of this year.

Reliford said not every city experienced an upswing in their homeless numbers, and some saw a decrease. But in general, “it’s a function of the economy. Homelessness has no borders. It has no boundaries.”

The city will send four or five staff, including Reliford, to be part of the surveying team. Some will be police officers.

Railroad tracks and under freeway underpasses are some of the places Milpitas’ homeless population seek shelter, said Reliford.

The initial results of the Housing 1000 survey will be revealed onJuly 1, 10:45 a.m. at San Jose City Hall.

About 7,200 homeless, including women and children, sleep on the streets of Santa Clara County, according to Destination: Home. Of those, 2,000 are chronically homeless, or have been without a permanent home for more than a year.