The Coalition for the Homeless is asking Louisvillians to take part in its yearly homeless street count set for this week.

The early morning event sends teams across the city to count the men, women and children living on the streets. More volunteers taking part means more areas can be covered and homeless service providers can get a better idea of what the actual need is in the city.

While the number of homeless people has been dropping in recent years, there are still thousands in Louisville without a permanent home. And hundreds of those are young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 years old.

That demographic is the focus on a new initiative from the Coalition for the Homeless aiming to develop systems that can get young people off the streets and into housing more quickly.

A similar initiative launched in 2015 helped develop systems to help combat homelessness among military veterans.

But Natalie Harris, executive director of the coalition, says the needs of young adults are often different than those of people who are considered “chronically homeless.” With young people, education and employment are key — though housing is still important, she says.

“A big part of what we’re trying to do is inspire young adults to find that thing, that job, that career, that education,” she says. “Then they have a future.”

The annual street count is a key element in ensuring resources are directed in efficient ways, Harris says.

The count will begin at 4 a.m. Thursday morning at Hotel Louisville downtown and last about two hours. Volunteers will be required to attend a mandatory training session on Wednesday, Jan. 25. More information is here.

After the count concludes, a warm breakfast will be served at Hotel Louisville.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.