(CBS) – The city of Chicago began conducting a count of its homeless population Thursday evening with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

The Department of Family and Support Services started the “point-in-time” count at 8 p.m. and was expected to wrap up at 1 a.m. Friday.

Federal housing authorities require a homeless count in order for cities to receive funding for homeless programs. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will use the data to combat homeless among former service members, DFSS said in a fact sheet.

The latest data won’t be released until summer. Last year, 6,300 homeless people were counted, CBS 2’s Brad Edwards reports.