FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Starting today The Fresno and Madera Continuum of Care will begin counting the number of homeless in the two counties.

The count will be used by federal agencies, cities, and counties to identify where funds should go.

Tuesday was the first day of the three-day count. 

On Blackstone Ave., a portion of the 300 employees and volunteers that are conducting this count met to eat, then get in their groups, and cover as much ground as they can.

Jody Ketcheside is the Vice Chair for the Fresno and Madera Continuum of Care.

“What is [the] top priority?” We asked.

“Shelter and housing,” said Ketcheside.

In her eyes, the homeless count and survey is part of the struggle to bringing more housing options, permanent or temporary to the Central Valley through federal dollars and other programs.

“The count helps us determine how many units short of affordable housing we may be. Some of the shelters are full on any given day, there may be a couple of beds available, but people are utilizing them,” she said.

When the count is complete, the demographics and data collected are used by the cities and states, all the way up to federal agencies.

It is a jumping point for finding out how much funding goes into certain programs that assist the homeless.

“Without having the count, we can’t advocate for funding for the community that they can benefit from,” said Ketcheside.

The needs of some of the homeless population, like Josephine Alvarez.

“Some of us need sleeping bags and tents, just to get by,” said Alvarez.

We met Josephine Alvarez near Downtown Fresno.

She was happy to hear the count was taking place, but Alvarez doesn’t want just want to get by.

Like Ketcheside, she wants more space for those who want the help.

“A permanent solution instead of a temporary solution for those of us that actually want the help and the housing,” she said.

“Yeah, I want to continue school and get past the train tracks.”

The data will also be used to ensure that there is a plan to address the needs of the homeless population.