RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Riverside County’s homeless population increased by nearly 3% in the last year, but the number of chronically homeless people dropped by 27%, according to the Department of Public Social Services.
The department published its findings for the Board of Supervisors to review Tuesday, but because of an hours-long hearing on proposals to roll back the county’s coronavirus-related restrictions, the 2020 Point-In-Time Homeless Count was given only a brief look.
The data show that during January’s homeless count, 2,884 adults and youths were identified as homeless, compared to 2,811 in the 2019 count.
The number of chronically homeless persons was estimated to be 529 — down from 727 in 2019, according to DPSS.
A chronically homeless person is defined as someone who has been living unsheltered for a full year, or who has been on the street off and on at least four times in the previous three years, officials said.
Figures indicated that the number of homeless seniors — those over 60 years old — fell by 7% over the last year, but the youth homeless population — those under 21 years old — increased by 41%.
The census involved 842 volunteers searching streets, alleys, under bridges, inside shelters, at campsites and other locations to identify homeless people.
It was unclear what impacts the coronavirus emergency would have, potentially driving homeless numbers higher, depending on when economic stability returns, according to DPSS.
“We are a resilient county, and we are putting the building blocks in place to emerge from this crisis stronger and more innovative than we were before,” said Heidi Marshall, director of the Department of Housing, Homeless Prevention & Workforce Solutions.
“By strengthening the safety net for our most vulnerable neighbors, we are strengthening the very core of our communities.”
Additional information about the survey is available at http://rchi.cs.ucr.edu/.