County point-in-time tally shows drop in homeless population

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By C. Jayden Smith

The county released the results of the 2022 point-in-time count on Wednesday, May 11, locating 585 homeless people in the Southern Services Planning Area (SPA) out of a total of 5,718, a decrease from the previous report in 2019.

More than 130 homeless people have been counted in San Clemente, the highest in the southern region, with 81 of them considered unprotected and another 50 listed as protected. In San Juan Capistrano, there were 65 homeless people, while Dana Point had 27.

The latest cumulative South County three-city count, which was conducted last February, marked a decrease of approximately 6.7% from the last PIT count in 2019. For San Clemente, the 2022 count showed an overall decline of around 9.7%, with 14 fewer homeless people reported on the streets or in shelters.

Dana Point saw the biggest drop in the number of reported homeless people, dropping from 32 to 27, or around 15.6%, while San Juan saw its homeless population drop slightly from 65 to 62, or 4.84 %, notes the 2022 report.

The Orange County Continuum of Care (CoC), along with all CoCs, is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to conduct an unprotected count every two years and an annual protected count of all homeless people in the county at a single point in time during the last 10 days of January.

However, Orange County’s one-time count was conducted from February 21-24, as the 2021 count was canceled amid the COVID-19 pandemic and was pushed back due to additional COVID concerns.

Broken down by SPA, the Center region had the most homeless people with 2,714 people listed. In the North SPA, 2,419 people were counted, while the South SPA had 585 homeless people.

The 2019 count investigated a total of 6,860 people, including 763 in the ZPS Sud. Of these 763 people, 538 were not housed and 225 were. In this year’s Southern SPA, 422 of 585 people surveyed were unsheltered and 163 were sheltered during those February nights.

At the time, the 2019 PIT Count represented a large increase in the county’s homeless population, up 43% from the 2017 report. This year’s count of 5,718 shows a decrease of about 16 .6%.

Comparing the number of unprotected people from 2019 to 2022, the county saw a decline of approximately 22.8%, from 3,961 to 3,057. As for the sheltered population, there were 238 fewer homeless people. , or 8.21% less, between 2019 and 2022, where 2,661 were reported.

During the count, nearly 1,000 volunteers asked participants for information relating to a multitude of categories, such as household composition, sub-populations, and information on disabling conditions, such as substance abuse problems, mental health problems. severe mental health and physical disabilities, among other demographics.

“The increase in the number of homeless residents housed, across all categories, including veterans, transitioning youth and seniors, is evidence that the county’s regional SPA (Service Planning Areas) approach works,” First District Supervisor Andrew Do said in the Release. “This creates a practical framework for cities to work together to meet the different needs of the region’s homeless population.”

Of the total number of homeless people recorded, 280 were veterans. In terms of age groups, 235 were listed as young people in transition or people aged 18 to 24, while another 718 were people aged 62 and over.

Of the 3,057 people not accommodated, 2,936 adults responded to questions related to disabling conditions, as did 2,060 of the 2,661 accommodated.

About 42% of all people surveyed said they had struggled with chronic homelessness and about 28.6% had substance abuse issues. Another 25.3% said they had struggled with mental health issues.

Fifth District Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said in the county news release that seeing the 2022 results is important to her in part because of her dedication to metrics and using those numbers to guide future actions.

“It’s important that policymakers take a snapshot in time to see how we’re doing and how we’re moving forward,” she said. “I am encouraged by the positive trends that are emerging and hope they will continue.”

C. Jayden Smith

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism at the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothers his black lab named Shadow.

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