MESA, AZ - Hundreds of volunteers are fanning out across the Valley to count the number of homeless people living on the streets.
Each municipality must do the count in order to secure federal funds from HUD for homeless assistance programs.
At Fire Station 1 in Mesa, volunteers gathered early to get supplies. Volunteers are also trained how to be safe when approaching someone who is homeless.
"There is a lot of mental illness," said Brande Mead with the Maricopa Association of Governments that is coordinating the count. She said the Valley typically receives about $25 million in HUD funds.
Volunteers are equipped with snacks, water and resources they can give homeless people to direct them to the appropriate assistance.
"It is eye-opening," said volunteer Jean Cooper. "There are so many women on the streets."
Last year, the count identified 1,581 homeless men women and children. The count is conducted from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. and provides a snapshot of the homelessness problem in the nation.