About 300 volunteers will visit food lines and drop-in centres this morning as Vancouver attempts to count its homeless population.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city has had success with its shelters and interim housing and is hopeful that work will be reflected in the count.

“On the street it feels like things are improving,” Robertson said. “But the numbers will tell us how much success we’re having.”

A regional homeless count in 2008 tallied 1,547 homeless in Vancouver and 2,592 homeless in Metro Vancouver. Regional counts have been done in 2002, 2005 and 2008 and another is planned for March 2011.

The city, which has a goal of ending homelessness by 2015, is updating its homeless action plan and wants a baseline against which to judge its efforts.

“It’s important to know how many homeless people there are,” said Jill Davidson, the city’s assistant director of housing policy.

“We really want to get everybody in the community involved to solve the problem.”

Vancouver’s count began last night in homeless shelters and was to continue this morning at congregating places, like soup lines and drop-in centres.

Volunteers wear large yellow buttons and are armed with questionnaires that ask why the person became homeless, how often they stay in shelters, and where do they get their money.

The questionnaires also try to identify health issues and what health services are used.

The city’s four winter response shelters will close at the end of April, but Robertson said he was hopeful that money could be found to fund the three HEAT shelters, which are also scheduled to close.