After the coronavirus pandemic forced the biannual count to be canceled at some point earlier this year, Orange County officials are looking for volunteers interested in helping to compile a comprehensive census of the county’s homeless population. in 2022.
The count is expected to start on January 24 and continue over several days. This is a federally mandated biennial homelessness census that collects demographics and other information so agencies can update their practices and resources. The tally also helps determine how much funding Orange County will receive to address homelessness issues.
In 2022, City Net, a Long Beach-based nonprofit, will help key volunteers and other organizations collect information showing: the number of homeless people in the county; where people stay in the county; demographics of individuals and families, including veterans, youth aged 18-24, the elderly, and the number of people affected by physical or mental health problems or disabilities. The tally will also include people living in emergency and transitional shelters.
Doug Brecht, acting director of the county’s care coordination office, said it was difficult to predict what the 2022 tally would show, but believes there could be a “slight increase” in the number of people without. shelter based on conversations he had with field service. providers and colleagues.
“In terms of results, from my perspective it’s hard to make a prediction, especially compared to our 2019 tally, because it’s not just three years, but what’s happened in those three years.” , said Brecht.
In December 2020, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development authorized Orange County to go without perform their 2021 count due to COVID-19.
Plans are underway to get things ready on time, but Brecht said they meet weekly with county health official Dr Clayton Chau to see if the tally can be safely done in the middle. of this winter outbreak of coronavirus cases.
“We are moving forward with the planning process as if this is going to happen,” said Brecht. “That being said, we will take all appropriate precautions and follow public health guidelines and practices for this count.”
All volunteers must prove that they are fully vaccinated, including the booster, with the second dose completed within the last six months. Those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine must have received it within the past two months. Otherwise, they will have to present proof of a negative PCR test within 48 hours of the volunteers scheduled work shift.
Despite the vaccination status, volunteers will have to wear face masks. Masks will be provided if necessary.
Brecht said the volunteers who go to the field will be matched with those they may already know in order to stay in their “social circle”.
If the 2022 tally comes forward, the data collected will help compare and contrast the rates with the 2019 results which used new methodologies and technologies. The last tally in 2019 found nearly 7,000 people living in shelters or on the streets of the county, a slight increase from the 2017 tally.
At the time, county officials warned that the increase could in part be attributed to new methodologies which provided a more comprehensive and detailed overview compared to previous years.
“It’s an incredibly valuable census and when done consistently over a period of several years,” said Brecht. “It really provides a baseline and shows how the interventions you apply between PIT accounts and how effective they really are. “
Since the last count, cities in the region have stepped up their game in the fight against homelessness. Huntington Beach and Laguna Beach have each opened homeless shelters. The towns of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, under a joint agreement, have opened a permanent bridge shelter in Costa Mesa.
For more information and to register as a volunteer, visit: www.everyonecountsoc.org/volunteer.
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