Riverside County Point in Time Count reveals a decrease of 8% in unsheltered homelessness

Tiani Jadulang

For the first time in six years, the results from Riverside County’s Point in Time (PIT) Count reveal a decrease in the number of persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

The unsheltered count decreased 8 percent and is the result of steep housing investments made with $196 million in COVID-19 relief funding that helped 26,665 households remain housed during the pandemic. The count identified a total of 3,316 sheltered and unsheltered homeless adults and children throughout the county, which is 15 percent higher than the count in 2020, which was 2,884.

The count was conducted February 23 – 25 and included counts in the street, unincorporated areas, and events to draw in homeless youth. The county is federally required to perform an annual census of people living in shelters and transitional housing and an unsheltered count every other year. The Riverside County Continuum of Care (CoC), however conducts an unsheltered count every year. The results offer a snapshot of local needs and support the county’s Housing and Workforce Solutions (HWS) and the CoC better direct resources to end and prevent homelessness.

During the count, more than 625 volunteers fanned out across the county on a cold early-winter morning to interview unsheltered individuals and families. In addition to the interviews, volunteers offered residents experiencing homelessness to services like housing, animal services, medical services, or help obtaining documents. As a result, 49 percent of those interviewed during the general count signed up to receive follow-up services.

“It was very important to not just interview persons experiencing homelessness, but to also connect them to services,” said Heidi Marshall, director of HWS. “The results of the count serve as a tool for effective planning and performance management toward the goal of ending homelessness for our community.”

Compared to 2020, the sheltered count increased 83 percent from 729 to 1,336. The sheltered count consisted of information from a countywide homeless management system, as well as data from agencies that operate emergency domestic violence shelters.

Stimulus funds have also provided an opportunity to decrease unsheltered homelessness and expand access to more than 600 safe shelter beds since 2020. Through this effort, HWS and the CoC have organized services to vulnerable residents, including seniors, expectant mothers, and individuals with significant health problems.

Results from this year’s count attest to the hard work from county and partner agencies to coordinate responses that align with the newly adopted Homeless Action Plan, with particular focus on expanding the number of emergency shelter beds and sustaining prevention efforts to help keep vulnerable low-income residents in housing. Read the Homeless Action Plan here.

The youth count, which was led by Operation Safe House counted transitional aged youth 18-24 experiencing homelessness. This year, the total number of transitional aged youth decreased by 4 percent. Homeless youth, often called “the invisible population,” tend to blend into their surroundings and are less likely to disclose their housing status to authorities.

The Riverside County Department of Housing and Workforce Solutions serves as the CoC Lead Agency for the Riverside County Continuum of Care. The Riverside County Continuum of Care is made up of over 200 individuals and agencies who meet regularly and oversee the community’s plan to organize and deliver supportive social services, including housing options to meet the needs of homeless individuals and families.

The complete report of the PIT Count results was presented today during the County of Riverside Board of Supervisors meeting. The results are available online at morethanacount.org.

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