With a new app in their hands, a record number of volunteers fanned out  across Riverside County early Tuesday morning, Jan. 29, for the 2019 Point-In-Time (PIT) Homeless Count and Survey.

The 2019 survey is a one-day street-based and shelter-based effort to identify how many people in the county are homeless on a given day. New this year, the record number of volunteers are using ESRI Survey 123 as the primary data collection tool. The app replaces paper-based forms. It was tested during last year’s count and proved to be user-friendly.

The county required volunteers to undergo training, including how to use the app, before deploying from 31 locations countywide on Tuesday. During the 2018 PIT Count, Riverside County saw a record 486 volunteers. This year, nearly 800 volunteers have registered to help in the count.

“The significant turnout of volunteers demonstrates how much residents in Riverside County care about doing something to address homelessness,” Natalie Komuro, Riverside County Deputy CEO for Homeless Solutions, said in a prepared statement.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires Continuum of Care communities that receive HUD funding, including Riverside County, to perform a one-day, point-in-time count. The results are expected in the spring and will provide critical updates on local and national progress towards ending homelessness.

The number of people without homes in Riverside County in 2018 decreased by 4 percent compared to a count in 2017. The 2018 “point in time” count totaled 2,310 adults and children, compared to 2,406 in 2017.

The 2018 federally mandated count in Riverside County was conducted the morning of Jan. 23. As in previous years, approximately 500 volunteers teamed up with outreach staff and experienced professionals from more than 130 agencies to canvass pre-identified areas.

The survey counts unsheltered and sheltered homeless people. The 2018 survey showed a 19 percent decrease in the number of sheltered homeless and a 3 percent increase in unsheltered individuals – a 4 percent decrease overall from 2017. The slight increase in Riverside County’s unsheltered homeless count (3 percent) was trending with other southern California counties that also experienced increases.

The record number of volunteers will conduct the count between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.