Study finds greater number of homeless countywide

RIVERSIDE – The number of homeless people in Riverside County climbed 11 percent last year, with a larger number of youths without a fixed residence, according to survey results released last week.

The Department of Public Social Services posted preliminary data from its Point-in-Time Survey, conducted in January, showing 2,413 dispossessed adults and children located throughout the county, compared to 2,165 a year
earlier.

“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,” DPSS Director Susan von Zabern said.

More than 500 volunteers deployed to find homeless people under bridges, in parks, alleyways, dry river beds and shelters. The survey found 1,638 sheltered homeless and 775 unsheltered. Last year’s figures were 1,351sheltered homeless and 814 unsheltered.

Between 2011 and 2016, numbers shrank by double digit percentages, making the most recent survey a reversal of that trend.

To comply with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandate, the county conducted a separate youth count, defining “youth” as those 24 years and under. According to the survey, 122 unsheltered youth were identified, compared to about 95 unsheltered youths counted in 2016.

Officials also recorded a 14 percent increase in the number of individuals who identified as “chronically homeless,” defined as people with disabilities who have been without a place to live for a year, or on the streets four times in the last three years, according to DPSS.

The complete survey is available at www.dpss.co.riverside.ca.us/files/pdf/2017-rivco-pit-city-data-v2a.pdf. A final report will be released in May.

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