More than 350 volunteers gathered to canvas Sacramento County Thursday night to count the number of individuals living unsheltered on the streets, in parks, and in other public spaces.
The count is used in allocating federal funds, and in making sure people know how to get the shelter or help that’s available to them if they want it.
In my group was Sacramento Supervisor Phil Serna and Sacramento Councilman Jay Schenirer, one police officer and a handful of volunteer counters. We were assigned to talk to people along the American River Parkway.
It was dark and wet when we arrived, and the woman in my story was waiting for us, in a lawn chair with a large pit bull puppy in her lap. She lives under a 160 overpass with her boyfriend, and several larger pit bulls- one of them the largest specimen of the breed I’ve ever seen (or would ever care to see walking out of the darkness towards me again) but the two were very friendly.
When I asked if they were related, she informed me that the giant dog was the puppy’s godmother, which brought a smile to the faces of the volunteers.
The last time this count was done two years ago organizers found that there were fewer people living on the streets, but that the percentage of homeless families were on the rise. They’re hoping that trend won’t continue this time. We’ll find out when the results come out in mid-May.