The annual homeless count is Thursday, when scores of volunteers will tally the number of people living on the street in Merced County.
Tallies similar to Merced’s are going on this week in cities around the state.
The number of homeless people in Merced County living in a shelter or on the street in January 2017 was 454, down 12.5 percent compared with the previous year, members of the Merced County Continuum of Care said. A tally from the group found more than a third, or 156, were living in shelters or transitional housing programs.
The Continuum changed up its method for the county in 2016 in effort to get more reliable numbers, Merced City Manager Steve Carrigan has said. He is also the chairman of the Continuum, a group of about 100 people from about 50 organizations.
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The count is required at least every other year for organizations to be eligible for funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Merced County’s numbers and tallying effort are significantly smaller than some counties in the state.
About 100 volunteers with the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care count homeless people during two nights and a day this week. Last year, the report found Fresno’s homeless population rose by nearly 20 percent. The survey estimated about 1,572 people in the city were homeless, an increase of about 250 from 2016.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority also counts over three days, using 8,000 volunteers. The group counted more than 58,000 homeless people last year, an increase of 23 percent.
Formally called the Merced County Point-in-Time Homeless Street Count, the effort is 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. Thursday, according to organizers.