There are about 20 homeless people living in Milford, according to a count done this week.

They may be seeking refuge in an emergency shelter, like the city’s no-freeze shelter, or they may be sleeping in a tent in the woods.

During an interview this week, Beth El Homeless Center Executive Director Toni Dolan said the count is part of the Point In Time (PIT) Count under the direction of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

According to a HUD website, it is “a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January.”

The count includes people who are sheltered in emergency shelters, transitional housing and safe havens on a single night.

“Volunteers go out throughout the state and literally count people,” Dolan said.

In Milford, participants went to the local library before it closed to see how many homeless were there, because that is one place people are known to find shelter.

“You go into the woods and see if you can find people,” Dolan said, adding that generally the volunteers know where in the woods they should be looking. Some people are living in tents: some have heaters to help keep them warm.

The count of 20 is an unofficial number, Dolan said, because while the volunteers do their best, they can’t be sure they are finding everyone.

Last year the number was 26, and while that might suggest six people found housing, it more likely means the people moved into other communities, Dolan said.

According to the HUD website, people who were formerly homeless often take part in the PIT count.

“People who have experienced street homelessness understand the experience, safety concerns, and unspoken rules of living in unsheltered locations and they can often provide guidance to other enumerators on safe and effective outreach and engagement approaches,” the website states. “They may also be able to access homeless encampments that may otherwise be inaccessible to enumerators.”