RIVERSIDE (CNS) – Hundreds of volunteers will disperse from more than
three dozen locations throughout Riverside County Wednesday for the 2023 Point-
In-Time homeless count, attempting to accurately record the number of
chronically homeless people countywide.

“The data gathered from the count informs us where our services are
needed most,” Second District Supervisor Karen Spiegel said. “It is so
important that we all support the count, so that every person experiencing
homelessness is identified.”

In the past, the county has mustered, at most, between 700 and 800
volunteers from civic organizations, church groups, colleges, nonprofit
organizations and government agencies to participate. However, this year, just
over 1,000 people are slated to take part, according to officials.

“This is the largest number of volunteers ever organized to support
the annual count,” according to an Executive Office statement.

Participants will seek to identify the status of individuals who may
be living in cars, under bridges, in transient encampments, homeless shelters
and other locations.

The county Continuum of Care manages the annual outings. The entity is
composed of representatives from civic groups, nonprofits and government.

The 2022 homeless census confirmed 3,316 people were chronically
unsheltered, a 15% increase from two years ago. The 2021 homeless census was
severely curtailed, with virtually no canvassing of known transient dwelling
spaces, because of the coronavirus public health lockdowns. Data was based only
on shelter interactions and did not provide an accurate representation of the
county’s homeless population.

The January 2020 count revealed 2,284 adults and youths were
chronically homeless countywide, about a 3% increase from the prior year.

The initial canvass is slated to take place most of the day Wednesday,
focused on the general number of dispossessed county residents. It will be
followed by a secondary survey on Thursday, specifically seeking to estimate
the number of minors on the streets.

Data is used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
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.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

City News Service (CNS)