Riverside County Cancels Homeless Point-in-Time Count Due to COVID-19
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the cancelation of the annual unsheltered count of homeless residents which traditionally occurs the last week of January.
The count of the unsheltered homeless population is part of the Point-In-Time Count (PIT) which is required by HUD to demonstrate local homeless levels and need.
The PIT counts both unsheltered and sheltered homeless individuals using community volunteers and staff from local government and service agencies. The PIT Count is coordinated by the Continuum of Care (CoC), a homeless planning body comprised of local service providers, advocates and government officials.
The decision to request the cancellation exception locally was due to heightened safety concerns for volunteers and staff who conduct the count and for unsheltered residents who participate in an interview survey. The CoC also noted the recent COVID-19 surges, the current stay-at-home order, and lack of staff and volunteer capacity as challenges in conducting a safe and accurate count.
“This was a difficult decision to make but ultimately necessary to protect the health and safety of homeless residents, volunteers and staff,” said Tanya Torno, who manages the Homeless Continuum of Care on behalf of Riverside County. “The county, in partnership with the Continuum of Care, has worked hard to protect homeless residents during the pandemic, including moving more than 870 unsheltered homeless individuals off the streets and into emergency housing through Project Roomkey.”
Last year, more than 800 volunteers and staff participated in the PIT which counted 2,884 homeless individuals in Riverside County, including 2,155 individuals were unsheltered and 729 sheltered.