Social advocates have differing views on what the outcome of this year's homeless count will be, with one expecting similar low numbers to last year and another preparing for an increase.
Ken Salter, an outreach worker for ASK Wellness, said there are fewer homeless camps set up around Kamloops. As a result, he predicts a low count when the disenfranchised are tallied later this month.
But Tangie Genshorek, co-ordinator of the Kamloops Homeless Action Plan, said last year's results were a surprise, and she's prepared to be surprised again.
There were 45 homeless counted last year, about half the number recorded in 2010.
The sizable drop was enough to leave Salter and his volunteers wondering if they missed something or made a mistake, he said.
"We talk about how to be safe out there and respectful toward the people we're dealing with," he said.
Genshorek suspects the numbers will climb again, if only for the fact that there was no justifiable reason for the low count in 2010.
"Last year I was surprised. This year I won't be surprised if I'm surprised again," she said.
Salter and Genshorek will know for sure when the two-day count takes place Oct. 18 and 19. Shelters and transition houses will be the focus of the first day. A street count will be done the next.
Volunteers are integral to carrying out a fast and efficient count. Salter hopes to have at least 80, and anyone who is interested in participating is asked to attend orientation sessions Oct 12 and 15 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at ASK's offices at 433 Tranquille Rd.
Salter said the sessions will cover everything from safety to the backpacks that will be given to every homeless person the volunteers encounter.
The backpacks contain all kinds of cold weather clothing from socks to mittens and hygiene products like toothpaste and shampoo.
"We're still looking for donations. Whatever we can come up with, we will be filling the backpacks with," said Salter, adding he'd like to have 150 backpacks.
The count will also include Merritt, hence the need for additional backpacks. Salter said Merritt is included because homeless tend to travel back and forth between Kamloops and the Nicola Valley community.
The City is providing $5,000 to ASK, in partnership with the Homeless Action Plan, to conduct he count. A complete report will be available in early November through www.kamloopshap.ca and www.askwellness.ca.