A two-day tally of transients in Orange County orchestrated by county officials puts the number of homeless at 3,448, it was announced Friday.
The homeless census -- conducted on Wednesday and Thursday -- was aided by an estimated 1,200 volunteers equipped with iPads and other technology aimed to help them get a more accurate count of the transient population than in other such efforts.
Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do, who volunteered himself Wednesday morning in the Santa Ana area near 17th Street and Washington Avenue, said there could be issues with undercounting some categories of transients and overcounting others so today's returns are considered preliminary.
Do acknowledged it was "risky" to do the count, but it was important to get an accurate accounting.
"We can't provide an effective or meaningful system of care if we don't have a real grasp of what it is we're dealing with," Do said.
County officials expect the number to be higher than in years past because the effort is more exhaustive this time around, Do said.
"I think some cities may be surprised" at the number of transients in their area, particularly in the southern part of the county where many leaders claim they have a negligible homeless population.
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The effort is part of a countywide bid to get transients off the streets and into shelters and permanent housing stemming from a lawsuit activists filed in federal court to prevent cities from enforcing anti-camping ordinances.