200 volunteers tally local homeless population in 2024 Point-in-Time Count

The story was originally published in KCBX with support from our 2023 Data Fellowship.


The 2024 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count in San Luis Obispo County took place this week.

On Tuesday, 200 volunteers traversed the County by car and on foot to count and survey the local homeless population.

The County conducts a PIT Count every two years. This year, Kari Howell from the County Homeless Services Division is overseeing the count.

“The more that we know about individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness, the better we can serve them,” Howell said.

Volunteers were divided into groups and assigned to various locations.

Two years ago, due to Covid-19 restrictions, they were limited to counting from their cars.

Image of a person walking

2024 Point-in-Time Count volunteer surveys the area for homeless individuals.

Photo By Amanda Wernik

Scott Peterson, a volunteer, prefers this year's approach of directly approaching people– since it allows them to reach individuals in more secluded areas.

“Most people that are unsheltered really don't want to be in the limelight, so trying to count from a car would be somewhat pointless,” Peterson said.

During mandatory training sessions before the count, volunteers received instructions to approach unhoused people with respect and to always seek their consent.

Additionally, they distributed gift cards to participants.

Another volunteer is Lindsey Haring, who co-owns Mountain Air, an outdoor goods store in downtown SLO, with her husband.

“We actually serve a lot of our unhoused community members at the shop– sleeping bags, shoes, jackets– and I felt like it was important to be part of an effort that could bring more funding,” Haring said.

According to local homeless services officials, the PIT Count data will help paint a clearer picture of how much federal funding SLO County can receive. They plan to send the information to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by the end of April.

A community report presenting the findings from the PIT Count data is also expected to be released by the end of March.