Volunteers take to streets to count Sonoma County’s homeless population

27 January 2023

A small army of over 150 volunteers, outreach workers and paid guides fanned out over Sonoma County in the pre-dawn hours of Friday looking to count the region’s homeless population.

Participants helping with the effort reported to deployment sites in Guerneville, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Sonoma. Of critical importance to the success of the entire enterprise: coffee was served at each.

Employing “blitz and survey” tactics – conducting a census by a large team over a very short period of time – small teams proceeded to their designated areas. The squads were comprised of volunteers, outreach workers, program staff and “lived experience guides,” as the research firm referred to members who’d previously been homeless.

The expertise of those guides is critical in locating as many homeless people as possible. Their participation also gives volunteers an opportunity to get to know them, and hear their stories, over the five hours they’re together.

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