Today begins New Bedford's annual Point-in-Time Count to identify the number of homeless individuals in the city.

Pat Sullivan, Director of Planning, Housing and Community Development for the city, tells WBSM News that about 45 volunteers, assisted by New Bedford Police, will spend 24 hours counting the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless in the city.

The 2016 PIT count identified 469 total adults and children in New Bedford experiencing homelessness. That was up seven percent from the year before.

"There's been no indication that we'll see any substantial surprises one way or the other," Sullivan said. "Our goal is always to find no one on the streets that are living unsheltered, especially this time of year."

The volunteers are utilizing new technology to help with the counting.

"This year, we're doing something different," Sullivan said. "We're utilizing a mobile app that all volunteers have on their phone, that will give us real-time data."

But it's not just about getting a headcount; it's also about outreach.

"The volunteers have come together and put together little care packages, including backpacks and supplies. We've had lots of tremendous donations from a lot of different public and private entities," Sullivan said.

The volunteers will also be inquiring as to how the individuals ended up homeless, to get a better understanding of their situation.

"What's impacting that? Was it a job loss, was it an addiction issue, was it an economic issue, was it eviction from an apartment?" Sullivan asked. "All those things help us really define what some of the issues and challenges are."

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