GT tags along on the 2011 Homeless Census and learns how Santa Cruz takes an imperfect science and does one of the nation’s most perfected counts.
I’m not much of a morning person. So when I set my alarm for 4:45 a.m. the night before taking part in the Jan. 25 Santa Cruz County Homeless Census, I feared the worst—for all I knew, I wasn’t even an operable human being that early. I’d surely be a bleary-eyed zombie, at best.
I moaned and grumbled as I forced myself out of bed the next morning. But as I filled the largest travel mug I own with some much-needed coffee, I gazed out of the kitchen window into the dark, frosty winter morning and a wave of humbling realization washed over me. Here I was, irritated to be yanked from my warm, comfy bed in my safe little house, grumpily making coffee in my very own kitchen, and yet in less than an hour I’d be setting out to count people who had spent last night, like most nights, outside, prey to the elements. These would be people who rise at this godforsaken hour every morning because they have to keep moving, because they don’t feel safe, or because they can’t be wherever it is they are.