By OC Supervisor Shawn Nelson
Fourth District staffers Scott Carpenter and Steve Spernak arrived at 4:00 a.m. at Victory Baptist Church on Magnolia and watched as nearly 200 volunteers arrived to begin registration and staging for the mornings Point-in-Time count of the homeless in OC.
Approximately a thousand volunteers staged at 5 community centers then fanned out to locations throughout the 800 square miles of Orange County to count the homeless at parks, train depots, industrial parks, alleys and malls along with encampments along rivers and creek beds.
Volunteers were trained on how to contact the homeless, secure interviews on their issues and challenges with living on the streets, then provide those who cooperated with the interview with a small care-package of hygiene supplies, bus passes and nutrition samples.
Orange County was recently awarded 19.7 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for homeless services. These services are coordinated through the county’s Community Services Department and rely on providers such as 2-1-1 to collaborate with service providers. The Point-in-Time count is a federally mandated count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless populations conducted every January to give a picture of the crisis to policy and appropriations managers who then budget how to direct resources and benefits.
In 2013, the one-night county of homeless showed 4, 251. From those numbers, officials estimated 12, 707 were homeless. In 2011, the estimate was 18,325 homeless in OC.
Karen Williams of 2-1-1 said there may be an increase in homeless due to the early release of state prisons released due to overcrowding and higher rents in OC. A national focus on getting Veterans into housing, along with an improved economy, could result in a reduction.
For more information on the Point in Time Count visit: http://www.pointintimeoc.org/