AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time since 2020, an Austin nonprofit will assemble volunteers to physically count the homeless population.

Set to take place in January 2023, the annual Point in Time (PIT) Count is a one-day survey coordinated locally by the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition, or ECHO. It offers a look at how many people are experiencing homelessness in Austin on any given night.

For the past two years, the event has been canceled because of COVID-19 safety concerns.

On Thursday, ECHO announced that it has kicked off efforts to recruit at least 1,000 volunteers to conduct 2023’s PIT Count. Volunteers are sent out into the community to distribute care packages as they survey areas of Austin and Travis County.

The PIT counts take place in person all over the country. Results must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development every other year to determine the allocation of federal funding to address community needs. In 2022, this requirement was waived.

Since 2020, ECHO has developed alternative methods to gather up-to-date data on the homeless population.

Using numbers from housing programs and social service requests, the organization was able to assemble a Homelessness Response System dashboard that updates monthly rather than annually.

Recent numbers in the dashboard show that there are at least 3,047 unsheltered people experiencing homelessness and 975 who are experiencing sheltered homelessness.

Going forward, the dashboard will continue to be updated to supplement the PIT count.

“The Point in Time Count is a great opportunity to get involved in our community’s efforts to end homelessness,” said Angela de Leon, ECHO’s Internal Operations Manager. “The more people who volunteer, the more supplies we’re able to hand out, the more conversations we’re able to have and the more complete our survey results are going to be.”

Those interested in volunteering or donating care packages for the PIT Count can visit this website.