About 50 volunteers from Multnomah County and the city of Portland will head out this Wednesday, Jan. 26 to the street, into homeless camps, and under bridges to count the number of homeless people.

"We're hearing there's more, new homeless," said Maileen Hamto, a spokeswoman for the Portland Housing Bureau. "We're looking to confirm that's what's really happening."

The goal of the count is to learn more about the people and families living on the streets and in temporary housing to determine their need for services.

Hamto knows the numbers are bigger than the last time volunteers conducted a count two years ago—on the night of Jan. 28, 2009. An estimated 1,591 people slept outside that night, with another 850 in temporary or emergency housing.

"This is the first year we're taking a count since the economy took a dip," Hamto said.

The homeless street count includes a survey that covers basic demographic information about the person's homeless situation or temporary shelter care. Local officials are required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to do a street and shelter count every two years.