PHOENIX — Valley officials are seeking volunteers to participate this month in a once-yearly count of people experiencing homelessness.

The “point in time” census provides a valuable snapshot that policymakers consult as they work to address the homelessness issue. The year’s count starts at 6 a.m. on Jan. 24.

"We can spot trends, identify gaps and get an understanding of the overall resources needed in our communities to address the ongoing increases in homelessness throughout the Valley," Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise, chair of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Council, said in a press release.

Anybody interested in volunteering can contact a coordinator through the MAG website.

Count teams are made up of city, county and state representatives, community and faith-based organizations, businesses and private residents. Participants use an app to tally people experiencing homelessness in areas such as alleys, parks, riverbeds and building doorways.

"Volunteers hope to engage with individuals to learn their individual stories of what led to their homelessness and the challenges they face in attaining housing," Rob Podlogar, chairman of the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Board, said in the release.

"If they don't wish to be interviewed, the volunteer will capture what information they can. The count is extremely valuable in determining how many people need resources, the specific challenges they face, and what types of resources are most needed."

The 2022 point in time count documented around 9,000 people experiencing homelessness across metro Phoenix, 22% higher than the previous count from 2020.

The numbers from this month’s initiative are expected to be released in April.