Numbers in the Stanislaus Community System of Care (CSOC) 2022 Point-In-Time (PIT) homeless count show a year-to-year drop from 2021 to 2022. Released earlier this month, the report identified 1,857 homeless persons in Stanislaus County. That is a more than 50 percent decrease from the snapshot survey taken in 2021. The tally was down by 1,070 people from last year when 2,927 homeless people were counted.
“This year we faced some challenges with the count,” stated Jason Conway, Chair of the CSOC. “But the information we did receive will still help us develop important support services and housing for homeless individuals in our community.”
The PIT count is an unduplicated count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night, historically in January. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that communities conduct an annual count of people experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night.
Officials reported that several factors contributed to the decrease in the PIT count.
• Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and health concerns, there was not a full unsheltered PIT Count with volunteers fanning out across communities to count the number of homeless individuals. HUD approved CSOC to use the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) as an alternative data strategy for the count. HMIS is a database used by homeless service providers to collect client-level data and data on the provision of homeless services.
• Fewer people were outside due to temperatures dipping below 35 degrees the morning of the count.
• There were scheduling challenges for volunteers when the PIT count was postponed from January to February due to COVID-19 Omicron variant health concerns.
• Less than 49 percent of the PIT volunteers assisted than initially registered in January. Many volunteers chose not to participate when the count was moved to late February.
• Homeless encampment sweeps were conducted before the unsheltered count occurred. Outreach and engagement teams were not able to locate homeless individuals on the day of the count.
In 2022, the PIT Planning Committee implemented heightened safety measures for the count due to the COVID-19 surge.
The sheltered PIT bed count (Housing Inventory Count) went on as scheduled on Feb. 24. All agencies that provided emergency shelter, transitional housing, and rapid re-housing counted the number of homeless individuals in their care.
The Sheltered Count found 911 individuals, an increase of 26 percent from 2021. The record freezing temperatures on the night of the count forced many homeless people to seek shelter and shelter alternatives such as staying with friends or family.
• 77% of respondents reported they first became homeless in Stanislaus County;
• 21% reported they were unable to pay rent as the top reason for becoming homeless;
• 47% reported they had a serious mental illness;
• 33% reported that lack of transportation was the main obstacle to accessing services;
• 50% responded that they had been incarcerated;
• 11% responded they were homeless due to COVID-19.
The annual PIT count data is critical to determine the scope of homelessness, define existing resources, and identify any gaps in services in Stanislaus County. Each year, HUD requires communities to count the number of people experiencing homelessness in each county across the United States.
The survey data is used to help determine the amount of funding available to communities to develop housing and supportive services for people moving from homelessness to independent living. The information helps service providers, policy makers, funders and local government gain a better understanding of the population currently experiencing homelessness.
The Homeless Shelter Count is organized by the Stanislaus Community System of Care (CSOC) which includes local governments, non-profits, and homeless providers. For more information, visit www.csocstan.com.