Numbers vary in Elk Grove’s homeless counts | News

Elk Grove has 45 homeless people living within its borders, according to the homeless point count (PIT) conducted in February.

This regional project, led by Sacramento Steps Forward, is mandated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A new count is usually carried out every two years.

According to the current count, Sacramento County has nearly 9,300 homeless people, and 33 percent of those people live in the city of Sacramento.

Overall, the number of homeless people on a given night in Sacramento County increased by 67% compared to the 2019 PIT count. The 2021 count has been postponed until this year.

With the help of volunteers and partners, data was collected on February 24 on the number of homeless people living in Elk Grove, as well as subpopulations such as veterans and the chronically homeless.

The PIT count identified Elk Grove as having the second lowest number of homeless people of any jurisdiction in the county.

While the city of Folsom had the lowest total, with 20 people homeless, Elk Grove has a much larger population of more than 178,000 compared to Folsom’s 79,000.

Ninety percent of the homeless people counted in Elk Grove were identified as longtime Sacramento residents or originally from this county.

Sarah Bontrager, the city’s manager of housing and public services, told the Citizen this week that Elk Grove at any given time has between 100 and 150 homeless people, based on data combined from the city’s homeless navigator, police of Elk Grove and various social media. service partners.

However, Bontrager said he wasn’t surprised by the one-time homeless population total for Elk Grove.

“We know that counting points in time is often an undercount,” he said. “It’s not really a census, but what it does show are trends over time. And so, that trend was in line with what I expected to see. Elk Grove still has a very small percentage of people in the region who are homeless.”

As for the total number of homeless people in the PIT count, Bontrager noted that it is almost impossible to find everyone who is homeless in the community.

“In suburban jurisdictions, it can be even more difficult,” he said. “We have more people living in vehicles than the city of Sacramento. We’re a higher percentage, not really more people.”

Bontrager added that it can be challenging for a PIT counter to figure out if someone sitting in their vehicle in a parking lot is homeless.

The 2019 PIT count creates a comparison challenge to this year’s PIT count, Bontrager explained.

“The (count for 2019) was seven; however, we know that number was not accurate,” he said. “Researchers told us they found some problems with that.”

Bontrager mentioned that one of the two teams he had at Elk Grove in 2019 lost all of his data and the other team experienced “some issues” with the data being collected.

Among the statistics from the 2022 point-in-time count that caught Bontrager’s attention was that only 18% of people who were counted became homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That’s a pretty low number considering the increase we’ve seen in total homelessness,” he said. “What we think is that the moratorium on evictions in particular, but also unemployment benefits and tax credits have helped a lot of people stay in their homes.”

However, there have been very low vacancy rates as a result, Bontrager noted.

“So if you entered the homeless pandemic, you weren’t very likely to be housed during the pandemic,” he said.

Bontrager stressed that there is a continued need for more housing.

“We still don’t have enough housing for the people who need it,” he said. “And what the count highlighted is that many people who are currently unprotected have a disabling condition, and that will make it very difficult for them to return to unsupported housing.”

She noted that the Sacramento region tends to receive HUD funds for permanent supportive housing.

“For many of the people who are not protected now, that will be what they need,” Bontrager said. “We’re seeing more success in housing families with children, in getting these people finally housed.

“We also did well regionally on the issue of homeless veterans. But for those who are not families, not veterans, there is a lot of work to be done.”

Lisa Bates, CEO of Sacramento Steps Forward, spoke about the importance of point counts over time.

“It’s important not only in terms of the estimated number, but it also gives us the opportunity to do surveys and interviews with clients and homeless people,” he said. “And then that data is also very useful in determining how long people have been homeless, where they resided before they became homeless, what types of services they need and what types of conditions they have?”

Bates added that there is also hope that this data can help guide future investment and decision-making.

Moving forward, Bates mentioned the importance of taking preventative measures in efforts to address homelessness.

“It’s also pointed out in the report (PIT story) that doing targeted prevention at the front end is more important than ever now, so that we don’t continue to (have more) homeless people coming into the system.” she said.

Numbers vary in Elk Grove’s homeless counts | News Source link Numbers vary in Elk Grove’s homeless counts | News

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