SAN ANTONIO – A team of volunteers spent hours walking the streets and heading into encampments Tuesday, looking to make contact with San Antonio’s unhoused community.
Dominic Yanes gave his team a quick walkthrough on approaching the homeless encampments gracefully and respectfully.
Yanes is one of 74 team leaders who will be leading 400-plus volunteers taking part in the annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count.
The event happens nationwide and helps organizations, government agencies and nonprofits get a census of the homeless count in communities.
“It’s not a perfect tool, but it’s what we have. And it’s one of the best tools we’ve had so far,” Yanes said.
The teams also carried supplies, hats, gloves and food into the camps. Volunteers also ask those staying there a few questions to understand the issues holding some of them back from getting a permanent home.
“Immediately understand that their situation isn’t due just to choices but to some of the hardest circumstances you’ve ever heard,” Yanes said.
Yanes’ team went to four encampments and made contact with 20 people Tuesday night.
For Yanes, connecting with the unsheltered community is deeply personal, as he was homeless eight years ago.
“Homelessness, you can’t just understand it with your mind. You’ve got to understand it with your heart,” Yanes said.
Close to Home leads the PIT Count with the help of government agencies, local nonprofits and San Antonio police.
In 2023, the PIT Count found more than 3,100 people were experiencing homelessness in Bexar County, showing a 5% increase from the previous year.