They peered into crevasses and underneath bridges, looking for homeless people in Menlo Park.
At the end of the day, they had found hundreds of people living on the streets.
Volunteers from Menlo Park and throughout the Peninsula roamed the County of San Mateo on January 24 to tally the amount of people who are homeless. Menlo Park City Councilmember Kirsten Keith was one of the volunteers this year.
The County of San Mateo Human Services Agency shared raw data with Patch from the preliminary count.
Wendy Goldberg, manager for homeless services at the HSA, said volunteers found 349 people on the street that day, with 131 of them living in their cars. Countywide, they found 129 encampments.
“A makeshift shed or tent counts as an encampment,” Goldberg explained. Park rangers reported they found eight people living in parks.
The County of San Mateo Human Services Agency conducts a survey of the homeless people within its borders every two years, relying on volunteers to walk through the cities and notate what they find.
In 2011, the census found 2,149 homeless people in San Mateo County, with 1,162 of them living on the streets or in cars, and 987 living in some type of shelter.
Menlo Park had the fourth highest amount of homeless people in the county that year, according to the census. With 168 sheltered and 72 unsheltered, Menlo Park had 240 homeless people within its borders in January 2011. Redwood City had the most homeless people in the county, with 501 counted.
East Palo Alto had the second highest number of homeless people within city borders on January 2011, with 431 homeless people in town. 385 of them were unsheltered. Atherton had one unsheltered homeless person.
Census officials concede that the survey is imperfect; some people live in structures that aren’t designed for human habitation and stay with friends, so they cannot be counted.
The final tallies will be released in April.
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