SONOMA COUNTY, CA — More than 150 volunteers and 60-70 paid homeless guides will participate in a “Point-in Time” street count of the homeless in Sonoma County later this month. The count between 5-9 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 25 of people living outdoors is coordinated by the Sonoma County Community Development Commission and will cover all census tracts of the county, according to Michael Gause, the Commission’s acting homeless services manager.
Volunteers will meet at five deployment centers that are located in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Healdsburg, Petaluma and Guerneville.
The homeless count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order for the county to receive $3.4 million for a variety of supportive housing, Gause said.
“The count is also an opportunity to bridge relationships within the community. It’s a chance to tear down conventional attitudes toward homelessness. Participants typically find the experience eye-opening,” Gause said.
The volunteers, who are training this week, will split into teams led by the homeless guides and canvas streets on foot or car to count as many people as they can in each census tract on Jan. 25. Separate counts will be conducted for homeless youth ages 18-24 and everyone staying in shelters, in jail or institutions.
Data from the street count will be supplemented over the following two weeks by a survey of 600 homeless persons. The survey will estimate the number of individuals and families who are unstably housed, couch surfing or living in doubled-up circumstances.
The survey was added to the 2018 homeless count last year after the October 2017 wildfires. Approximately 2,000 households are being contacted this year between Jan. 11 and Feb. 3 to provide the demographic data.
Last year there were 2,996 homeless people in the county. The results of the 2019 homeless count will be published this summer.
By Bay City News Service
Photo via Shutterstock
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