The following press release was issued by the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services. We’ll note, here, that this year’s point-in-time total of 1,473 is more than twice the number of homeless people counted two years ago, though there was a lot of skepticism about the accuracy and methodology of the 2017 count.
The Outpost reported on the new techniques employed by the county for the this year’s count. DHHS Senior Program Manager Sally Hewitt calls this year’s count “very successful” in the press release below:
More than 1,470 unsheltered people were counted in Humboldt County during this year’s Point-in-Time (PIT) count, according to results from the Jan. 23 count of people experiencing homelessness.
This year’s count showed the largest number of unsheltered people in Eureka, followed by the Arcata-Manila area, the Garberville-Redway-Benbow area and McKinleyville.
More than 140 volunteers from across the county participated in the count, which takes place in communities across the U.S. on a single night in January, as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Numbers from the count are used by the state of California to allocate funding to counties to address homelessness and housing.
The biennial PIT count, conducted by the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition (HHHC), documents the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless people.
Sally Hewitt, co-chair of the HHHC and senior program manager with the Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services, said this year the county used a software program to conduct the count which made it possible to have some results available to the community much earlier than in previous years when the count was done by paper surveys.
“We are still finalizing some of the numbers from the surveys, but we know this was a very successful PIT count,” she said. “This is due to the amazing work done by many volunteers who turned out early to begin counting and surveying people experiencing homelessness.”
On Jan. 23, volunteers connected with homeless people throughout the county to administer voluntary surveys with questions about age, physical and mental health status and where they slept the night before. In addition to surveying people, for the first time, volunteers were also able to conduct an observational count of people who were sleeping or who declined to participate in the survey.
For the unsheltered portion of the PIT, volunteers could only count people who fall under the HUD definition: An individual or family with a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport or camp ground.
Numbers for the people in the sheltered count, which HUD defines as an individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangement (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, or local government programs for low-income individuals), will be forthcoming.
The PIT provides a snapshot of the homeless population at a specific point in time, and Hewitt said the success of this year’s count is due in big part to community volunteers. “Thank you to all who participated and supported this work that directly benefits the communities of Humboldt,” she said. “Their work assures we will have the funds we need to help people into housing, to assist them in retaining housing and to help prevent currently housed people from becoming homeless.”
The HHHC is a coalition of housing advocates, businesses, funders, elected officials, services and housing providers, faith-based organizations and other community stakeholders working together to identify and address local housing needs. In Humboldt County, the HHHC is the lead organization for homeless issues and the federally designated Continuum of Care. For more information about the HHHC, visit its website at http://www.humboldthousing.org/.
The unsheltered count, below, indicates the number of people who slept in a place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation, the night before the Jan. 23, 2019 count.
Location: Number of people:
- Eureka - 653
- Arcata-Manila - 263
- Garberville-Redway-Benbow - 220
- McKinleyville - 121
- Fortuna-Loleta-Ferndale - 83
- Willow Creek-Weitchpec-Orleans-Pecwan - 49
- Rio Dell - 40
- Blue Lake - 14
- Orick - 14
- Petrolia - 10
- Trinidad - 6
- Total - 1,473