The Desert IndependentTM
Serving Blythe and the Desert Regions of the Southwest Since 2001
Homelessness has increased in Riverside County
April 13, 2017
RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif – The number of homeless people in Riverside County increased countywide compared to a similar survey last year. The “point in time” count totaled 2,413 adults and children, compared to a 2016 count of 2,165. A total of 1,638 unsheltered homeless individuals and a sheltered count of 775 were identified in Riverside County. In contrast, during the 2016 PIT count, 1,351 unsheltered and 814 sheltered homeless individuals were identified.
The federally mandated count in Riverside County was conducted on the morning of January 24, 2017. As in previous years, more than 500 community volunteers, outreach staff and experienced professionals from more than 130 agencies canvassed pre-identified areas countywide.
This year’s survey showed an overall 11.45 percent (or 248 people) increase over last year’s count (a 21.2 percent increase in unsheltered homeless people and a 4.8 percent decrease in the number of sheltered homeless people). While some cities had decreases, countywide there was an increase for the first time since 2011.
Since 2011, the county had seen sharp decreases in the number of homeless people counted with an overall decrease of 61 percent. Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) Director Susan von Zabern said, “We believe the increase this year may be attributed to several factors, including more participation and engagement from our cities, increased law enforcement participation, and unprecedented weather conditions in the days leading up to the count which resulted in some city and county volunteers revisiting areas where people may have been displaced.” A contingency plan to revisit some areas affected by the weather is allowable within a seven-day window following the count.
In addition, following new requirements by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to have a separate youth count, DPSS increased efforts to obtain a more accurate count of youth ages 24 and under who are experiencing homelessness. The 2017 count for unsheltered youth is 122; a 28 percent increase from last year’s count. This increase may be due to increased collaboration and focus on youth in Riverside County to conduct follow up counts of youth during the seven-day window following the point-in-time count date.
Additionally, the point-in-time count showed a 14 percent increase (or 42 people) from 2016 among those who were unsheltered and indicated they were chronically homeless as defined by HUD, which means they must have a disability and have been homeless continuously for one year or at least four times in the last three years totaling one year.
The DPSS Homeless Programs Unit has commissioned the bi-annual homeless count since 2005, when the county was first required by HUD as a requirement to receive funding for homeless assistance programs. The county will continue to conduct annual point-in-time counts as recommended by HUD. The data will be used to understand and track the extent and scope of homelessness in Riverside County.
Organizations that provide shelter for individuals and families generally compile information that is submitted to HUD, along with the “unsheltered” count. The data will eventually become part of an annual report to Congress on the effectiveness of HUD’s programs.
A preliminary data breakout of each city and unincorporated area are attached.
A summary document and additional preliminary detail data reports are available on the DPSS website: http://dpss.co.riverside.ca.us. A final report will be available on the same website by May 10.
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