NEW YORK - For the 14th straight year, thousands of volunteers descended across the city in the middle of the night Monday to endure harsh winter temperatures, united in a common mission: Count the homeless people sleeping in public places.

The effort is the city’s Department of Homeless Services’ Homeless Outreach Population Estimate or HOPE Survey, for short, and is performed annually as federally mandated.

It’s the second straight year that the city recruited around 4,200 volunteers for the effort.

“I think as a New Yorker, it’s really easy to like overlook homeless people because you see them every single day on the subway or on the street, and I think for myself, it’s bringing more of an awareness than I normally give,” said Asia Gerosa, a Hunter College student and volunteer for the early morning survey.

Volunteers canvassed from midnight to 4 a.m. on Tuesday, stopping each person they came across, and to ask a simple question: “Do you have a place to stay tonight?”

Estimates since 2005 for New York City have fluctuated from year to year, the highest estimate being the inaugural year with 4,395 homeless estimated on the streets. The lowest was in 2009 with 2,328.

Last year’s Hope Survey estimated 3,675, a 6 percent decline from the previous year, but followed a near 40 percent jump from 2016 when 2,794 were estimated.

“There are some younger people that have shown up recently and I think we’re also learning that people don’t want to go to the shelters,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “It’s always mental illness, but there’s always increasingly the issue of not being able to pay rent,” she explained.

Helping people off the streets is the mission behind Home STAT, an outreach program launched by the de Blasio administration in 2016. Every day, outreach workers attempt to cultivate relationships with homeless people on the streets, who may be distrustful of social services, with the goal of connecting them with sustainable assistance. It’s credited with placing 2,000 street homeless people in shelters or housing.

“We’re not focused on counting for the sake of counting. We’re focused on the results of each individual’s case and finding a pathway for that person to come back inside,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks.

“That’s the hard work of the staff that they are doing day in and day out is engaging and building that relationship. It just starts with talking with someone like you and I are talking and being able to have a connection with them so they can trust you,” explained Erica Strang, Director of Manhattan Outreach Consortium.

“Tonight helps us move that work further by literally checking our work,” said Banks. “Volunteers are helping be our eyes and ears on this one night to make sure we are looking everywhere we can to build trust with people on case by case basis and bring them in off the streets,” he said.

This year’s survey results are expected in late spring.