SAN ANTONIO -- Scott Ackerson has seen a growing number of homeless families desperately seeking temporary shelter at Haven for Hope. His agency is working with the South Texas Alliance for the Homeless to try to accurately count the number of people living on the streets.
Ackerson said about 300 volunteers will scour the streets, alleys, underpasses and some wooded areas.
Federal Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, requires the count to decide how much of your tax dollars goes to cities providing shelter, food medical attention and education for people who have fallen into homelessness.
All the services could possibly help many get back on their feet, financially. According to Ackerson, in 2012 the homeless population in our city totaled 3,577 with 837 living on the streets and not in a shelter.
The problem isn't just downtown either. Counters will be in the suburbs, searching through wooded areas like a section of land behind a shopping center off 1-10 and De Zavala.
Gloria Smith doesn’t recall seeing any homeless people seeking shelter in the wooded area but she’s curious about where they can get help.
"Who is responsible for them? Don't they have family to turn to, someone to say can you keep me? Can you turn me in the right direction?"
Ackerson says because of mental illness or drug abuse many people find themselves on the street—feeling they have no where else to turn.
Social workers say it's costly for us all if a homeless person is jailed for breaking the law or if a homeless person needs emergency physical or mental health care. So Ackerson insists it’s very important to find the homeless in our community to get a good count.
"It's still people and I am a social worker by trade. Yes, it's disheartening," Ackerson expressed.