SAN ANTONIO – The South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless is working to identify just how many people are living without shelter in Bexar County.

As many as 500 volunteers combed San Antonio taking a census of people living on the streets or in emergency shelters.

The count is used as a baseline not just for the city, but for the federal government. The numbers shed a light on whether services for the homeless are being utilized.

Volunteers said if you spend one night on the streets and you will see how easily homelessness can happen to anyone.

"A few days ago we found a family under a bridge," said volunteer David Huete for Haven for Hope. “They were from out of state. They had run out of money and they had nowhere else to go.”

The group of 400 volunteers is working to make sure the voices of the homeless don't fade away.

"We're really just trying to find out how many people are experiencing homelessness and this is the best way we can do it. Just go out in teams and look for people," said Katie Vela with the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless.

The volunteers spent the night going from street to street, sharing resources with whoever they meet and keeping track of the numbers.

Last year, an estimated 3,000 people were found to be homeless in Bexar County. That number has been steady for several years.

Recently, advocates have seen big changes in one population - veterans.

"Two years there were well over a thousand veterans on our streets and living in shelters. Today, as of a week and a half ago, that number is down to 233," said Bill Hubbard with the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless.  

The volunteers are hoping the latest survey can help them better identify the other groups. The information will help advocates with programs for those in need.

"You never know what you're going to run into. It's all walks of life. Homelessness is not the stereotypical person who had had a run of bad luck or someone who’s been on the streets for 30 years," said Huete.