Want to help reduce homelessness in Sacramento but unsure of what you can actually do? Here’s one small way you can make a big difference.

Sacramento Steps Forward — the non-profit agency that coordinates homeless resources in the region — is recruiting volunteers for the 2019 Homeless Point-in-Time (PIT) count.

The count, which will be conducted Jan. 30-31, “is vital to understanding the scope of homelessness in the city and county,” said Emily Halcon, Homeless Services Coordinator for the City of Sacramento. The census data it produces helps shape policy and programming designed to assist some of the region’s most vulnerable residents, she said. It also plays a role in federal and state funding.

Sacramento Steps Forward has partnered with Sacramento State’s Division of Social Work and the Institute of Social Research on the PIT count, which essentially serves as a snapshot of who is experiencing homelessness on any given night.

Hundreds of volunteers will be trained and grouped into teams to canvass the community over the two nights and tally numbers. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, have a strong interest in helping people and attend required training to learn to safely conduct accurate counts within mapped territories.

If you’re interested in volunteering, fill out and submit this volunteer survey. Requests to form teams consisting of coworkers, family or friends can be accommodated.

The most recent Sacramento PIT count was conducted in January 2017. It found that nightly homelessness in our community had increased by 30 percent since 2015 (from 2,822 to 3,665 people).

Utilizing innovative partnerships and strategies, the City of Sacramento has been working diligently to address the complex issue that is homelessness. Earlier this month, Mayor Darrell Steinberg, in coordination with the City and Volunteers of America, announced that the Triage Shelter on Railroad Drive would be extended for at least another six months while new shelter sites in each Council district are identified.

The City Council also recently voted to apply to two new State programs that will provide nearly $20 million to address local homelessness. The City is expected to begin accessing those funds — known as HEAP and CESH — in early 2019.