There are nearly 53,000 homeless people living in Los Angeles County. We know this because each year volunteers count each one.

"It's Los Angeles saying 'we see you.' We see you, and more than that, we count you. And because we count you, we can care for you," said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Mayor Garcetti says if the homeless don't get counted, LA won't get enough money from the federal government to help them.

Public officials put out a call this week for the thousands of volunteers they'll need to help with the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count in January.

"It helps us allocate resources to those areas where the population is most in need," said Peter Lynn, the Executive Director of LAHSA, "and it gives us a really rich understanding of what is actually happening on the street."

LA County's homeless population went down in the 2018 count by about 4 percent. It was the first decrease in four years.

Frank Thompson is a resident of a new affordable housing complex built using funds from LA's Measure H.

"I've been homeless for two years," said Thompson. "And now that I'm not I can finally get my son out of foster care, and this is a step for me, a great step."

But the number of homeless in LA County is still roughly 33 percent higher than it was five years ago.

"There are people out there that are lost in the hidden places and the cracks of Los Angeles," said Thompson, "and it's important to go out there and seek these people so that they can get the help and the hope that they need."

"Everybody sleeping on our streets is a person. They have a name, they probably at one point had a family, they have a story," said LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

You can sign up to volunteer for the count online. Visit Enter the zip code where you'd like to work and fill out the RSVP form.

2019 results won't be available for several months after the January count.