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Teams of trained volunteers fanned out from Interfaith Works’ Silver Spring Community Vision shelter in the dawn hours of Jan. 29 to undertake a census of people who are experiencing homelessness.

The annual survey — known as the Point In Time survey — provides a crucial snapshot of the size of the homelessness problem in Montgomery County, Md., generally known as an affluent county.

Last year’s survey brought good news: the total had dropped below 1,000, to 891, a hint that concerted efforts to provide permanent housing to more homeless people are working. There are hopes this year’s survey will show similar progress. The survey is done across the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and across the United States.

The teams that circulated in downtown Silver Spring were briefed at Interfaith Works’ Community Vision PIT-survey-2015_Interfaith-Works_presurvey-briefingshelter. The Silver Spring teams including Montgomery County Council President George Leventhal (D-At Large).

The count focuses on people living unsheltered in outdoor areas, but also includes people who temporarily have come in out of the bitter cold for safe seasonal shelter in locations such as Interfaith Works’ Silver Spring site.

The teams went out to survey various spots in Silver Spring where homeless people have been known to congregate. People interviewed were provided with a bag supplied by Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services that included a light blanket, new socks, and a list of services available to vulnerable people who need assistance.

Results of the Point In Time survey will be released later this year.