Riverside County’s Homeless Count Moved To February 23

City News Service

RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County’s point-in-time homeless count will
be moved to February instead of the end of this month, due to concerns
about the recent upswing in coronavirus cases, which officials said today they
hoped would abate in a month.

“We made the decision to postpone,” Department of Housing &
Workforce Solutions Director Heidi Marshall said. “Our goal is to conduct a
comprehensive and accurate count while ensuring appropriate safeguards for all
involved.”

COVID-19 infections have contributed to nearly 1,000 hospitalizations
countywide, according to the county Department of Public Health. To give the
latest virus wave time to taper off, officials rescheduled the point-in-time
tally to Feb. 23-25. It had originally been planned for Jan. 26-28.

The additional time to recruit volunteers also will be helpful,
according to the county.

Members of faith-based groups, churches, civic affairs organizations,
college students and many others are needed for the effort.

“The information we collect allows us to make informed decisions
about where our resources should be targeted,” Supervisor Karen Spiegel said
when the count was announced last month.

Roughly 380 volunteers have signed up to date, but the county ideally
would like to have more than 700 available to find and verify the status of
individuals who may be living in cars, under bridges, in transient encampments,
homeless shelters and other locations throughout the county.

The 2021 homeless census was severely curtailed, with virtually no
canvassing of known transient dwelling spaces, because of the coronavirus
public health lockdowns last winter. Reports were based only on shelter
interactions and did not provide an accurate representation of the county’s
homeless population.

The January 2020 count revealed nearly 3,000 adults and youths were
chronically homeless countywide — about a 3% increase from the prior year.

No previous experience with the point-in-time count is necessary to
volunteer. Some training is required, and although youths as young as 16 years
old can participate, minors will have to be accompanied by an adult, according
to officials.

Volunteers must also have a smart phone or tablet to conduct the
survey and be able to walk up to two hours.

The data are used by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
officials to determine how to distribute federal homeless relief funding, and
by policy makers in determining the scope of homelessness nationwide —
including what’s working, and what’s not.

All those interested in participating were encouraged to register at
rivcopitc2022-countyofriverside.hub.arcgis.com/ or rivcopitc2022-
countyofriverside.hub.arcgis.com/pages/youthcount.

Copyright 2022, City News Service, Inc.

CNS-01-14-2022 16:55

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