Survey Claims that Orange County’s Homeless Population Increased to Nearly 7,000
According to a new census of Orange County’s homeless population, the number of people living in shelters or on the streets countywide is almost 7,000. This is a significant increase compared to last year’s census, with some cities seeing large increases in the number of homeless people. Orange County’s Point in Time count, which was conducted in January, documented 6,860 homeless people. County officials stated that 2,899 of those 6,860 homeless people were staying in some kind of shelter, while 3,961 were unsheltered. Susan Price, the county’s director of care coordination, stated the following regarding to Point in Time count,
We have a lot better accuracy in terms of the data. When you get the opportunity to talk to the population directly, you’re talking to the homeless person about their issues, things they’re struggling with, what their barriers are, what their needs are.
The Point in Time count is actually a federally required biennial census of the homeless that collects demographic data and other information so that agencies can update their practices and resources. The count also helps determine how much funding will be received to address homelessness issues. By comparison, there were 2.208 people staying in some kind of shelter during the 2017 Point in Time count, and 2,584 who were unsheltered. At least one county official is partly attributing the increase to new methodologies and technology used to count the homeless this time around, which provided a more comprehensive and detailed overview than in previous years. Volunteers used a smartphone app this year to log survey responses and the locations where they met people. Hopefully the next count will be more accurate so that agencies get the proper amount of funding to deal with the homelessness issue.