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Alameda County point-in-time homeless count conducted today

Tents on a city sidewalk
James Wang
Flickr / Creative Commons
Encampment in Berkeley

Every two years, communities across the country release an official report called a “Point In Time Count” that documents the number of unhoused people within their area. For Alameda County, Thursday morning — from 5 o’clock to 10 o’clock — was that “point in time.”

More than a thousand volunteers got up before sunrise to tally the number of people experiencing homelessness in Oakland, Berkeley, and other communities across the county.

This year, volunteers did more than just count — they also interviewed people to collect information about their identities and experiences. Participating in the survey was optional, and volunteers received training on “cultural humility” and “trauma informed approaches” to discuss potentially sensitive topics. These included people’s past experiences with homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse.

The county’s 2022 report showed an overall increase of 22 percent since 2019 — the last time the data was collected, before COVID-19. Oakland’s unhoused population increased by 24 percent, but Berkeley saw a slight decrease of five percent—the first drop in recent history.

Today’s findings will inform the county’s 2024 Point in Time report to be issued this spring.

Sheryl Kaskowitz is a fellow in KALW's Audio Academy. Her beat is public arts and culture.