S. E. Williams |
“Finding shelter for homeless families and individuals is only part of the picture,” said San Bernardino County Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford reflecting on the county’s 2022 Point in Time homeless count.
Rutherford, who serves on the County’s Interagency Council on Homelessness continued, “We also must provide wrap-around services such as mental health care, addiction treatment, financial counseling and other aid that helps people rebuild their lives.”
Rutherford’s comments were included as part of a county press release revealing this year’s count saw an uptick in the area’s homeless population to 3,333 homeless persons compared to 3,125 in 2020. There were, however, some encouraging results.
The county’s unsheltered population decreased by one, from 2,390 in 2020 to 2,389 this year, and when considered in relation to counts in the three previous years, 2020, 2019, and 2018, that reflected percent increases in the double-digits and in relation to the increased number of homelessness reflected in this year’s count, to have the unsheltered population remain basically flat is an indication of progress in this regard.
Who is counted among the homeless?
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports a person is considered homeless when they either reside in places not meant for human habitation, such as cars, parks, sidewalks, and abandoned buildings, or an emergency shelter, or some form of transitional housing for homeless persons.
This year’s count found a 28 percent increase in the number of homeless living in shelters and transitional housing versus living on the street compared to 2020. As noted above, this is an indication county officials are finding success in creating additional shelter space for the homeless population.
Funding support from a variety of sources has been pivotal in this regard including programs like Project Roomkey; Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP); HHAP CV funds and Continuum of Care.
Making a difference
These organization have assisted by helping to provide housing and shelter for about 2,000 individuals since March 2020 according to the county, 800 of whom were referred to permanent housing. Project Homekey services included the Pacific Village project, which provided long-term interim shelter to 33 individuals in 28 units while the All-Star Lodge project provided long-term shelter to 50 individuals in 38 units.
“I would like to show my greatest gratitude towards the joint efforts of the San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership, all the volunteers who went out of their way to assist, the San Bernardino County Community Revitalization Office of Homeless Services, and the Institute for Urban Initiatives for their count of unsheltered homeless in our County,” said Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr., who also serves on the County’s Interagency Council on Homelessness.
“Our work here is just beginning, but the fact that we are seeing a lot of our funding sources such as Project Roomkey, and assistance from Social Work Action Group (SWAG) make a positive impact, while housing thousands of homeless means we are in the right direction. The County’s new homeless strategic plan that is to be unveiled is going to make a difference and impact many aspects of fighting to reduce homelessness in our county.”
About 79% or 2,640 of the 3,333 homeless adults and children in the county were counted within seven cities. They include Barstow, Colton, Fontana, Ontario, Redlands, San Bernardino, and Victorville. These seven cities also accounted for 76.2% of the total unsheltered population and 86.6% of those living in shelters and transitional housing.
Jurisdictions with Largest Number of Homeless Persons
Nearly half (47%) of unsheltered adults who agreed to be surveyed stated that the city in which they first became homeless was San Bernardino and the second-leading answer (6%) was Victorville
In addition, at least 27% of adults and children counted among the homeless reported they became so for the first time in 2022.
The ongoing struggle to re-enter society from prison was once again reflected in this years Point in Time Count. Nearly a quarter of adults shared they were either released from jail or prison within the previous 12 months. This is similar to what was quantified in the counts of 2019 and 2020.
“The County’s new homeless strategic action plan brings all of our programs, services, and partners together so we can address the root causes of homelessness and help people get off the streets for good,” Rutherford advised.
Those who are homeless for one year or more and have a disabling condition such as mental illness, chronic health condition, and/or a physical disability are considered chronically homeless and accounted for nearly half of all unsheltered persons counted in this year’s assessment.
“It’s important to see where we are in that snapshot of time because its going to help us make decisions about how we address homelessness in our county,” said Supriya Barrows, County Deputy Executive Officer, Community Revitalization.
Not only does it help local officials make decisions about how to address the issue of homelessness, it is part of the requirements by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to qualify for local funding.
Those who counted
About 600 community volunteers were recruited to conduct the 2022 San Bernardino County Point-in-Time homeless count. There were nearly 30 partner agencies that contributed staff time and office space for training and deployment of counters, and there were 24 law enforcement agencies that provided their time, knowledge, and expertise on the locations of homeless persons.
Nearly 30 additional agencies helped with the planning process, including the San Bernardino County Innovation and Technology Department, which created maps to guide counters and programmed the survey so that results could be captured in real time.Follow this link to the full San Bernardino County 2022 Homeless Count Report