More Exacting Count Reflects Higher Tally Of County’s Homeless

San Bernardino County saw a 23.1 percent increase in the number of homeless individuals counted in the census specifically targeting the dispossessed in January 2019 than was counted in a similar survey done in January 2018.
According to the San Bernardino 2019 Homeless Count and Subpopulation Survey Final Report released this week, “There were 2,607 persons who were homeless on Thursday, January 24, 2019. The previous homeless count and subpopulation survey was completed in 2018 when 2,118 persons were counted. A comparison of the last two counts reveals that 489 more persons were counted in 2019, which represents an increase of 23.1 percent.”
Dennis Culhane, Ph.D., a social science researcher with primary expertise in the area of homelessness and assisted housing policy, said the higher number of homeless counted this year was a reflection of the improved tallying and surveying methodologies used during the January 2019 count. Culhane said. “The most recent year included a number of improvements intended to increase coverage, and efficiency. These improvements no doubt contributed to the increase in observed persons who were unsheltered on the night of the enumeration. Simply put, broader coverage alone will yield a higher count, if one uses a known location methodology, as San Bernardino County has done, and as is an approved method by HUD.” The improved methods included targeted mapping, closer monitoring of undocumented areas, and an increase in the number of volunteers making the counts.
The report’s executive summary states, “Of the 2,608 persons counted in 2019, 1,920 or 73.6 percent were unsheltered, which is defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as “An individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning: (i) 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.”
The summary continues, “HUD also requires that the total number of unsheltered and sheltered adults be broken down by various subpopulations including age, gender, race, and ethnicity. Of the 1,920 unsheltered persons counted, 1,873 were adults, five were unaccompanied youth under age 18, and 42 were children under age 18 in families.”
The county seat again led all of the county’s cities and jurisdictions with the number of homeless, 890, followed once again by Victorville, with 333, which had the second highest total.
According to the figures released, San Bernardino had a total of 890 homeless; Victorville 333; followed by Redlands with 183, Rialto with 133, and Ontario with 128.
The cities hosting the top five highest totals of homeless in the county this year was different than the list tallied last year when San Berrnardino, Victorville and Redlands likewise were the three cities at the top of the list, followed by Upland and Barstow. In 2018, Ontario was in sixth place and Rialto in eighth.
This year, in those unincorporated county areas without an association to a particular district or community, there were 115 homeless. The City of Fontana had 94; Highland 72; the Town of Yucca Valley, which is incorporated, had 72; Barstow 62; Colton 58; Upland 58; Rancho Cucamonga 58; Twentynine Palms 40; and incorporated Big Bear Lake had 39.
The unincorporated community of Joshua Tree had 30. Needles had 29 homeless living within its city limits; and Loma Linda 25. The unincorporated community of Bloomington had 24. Hesperia had 24; Montclair 24; the incorporated Town of Apple Valley 23; Chino 23; Yucaipa 16; Adelanto 14; Chino Hills had four; and Grand Terrace one. Among remaining unincorporated county areas, Muscoy had 13; Crestline seven; Lake Arrowhead six; Mentone/Crafton three; the unincorporated area of Big Bear/Sugarloaf two; Cajon Canyon two; Running Springs one; and Yermo one.
It thus appears that the greatest saturation in terms of homeless in ratio to a specific area’s population was incorporated Big Bear, where the population is 5,019 and the homeless tally 39, a ratio of 1 to 129. In Joshua Tree, with a population of 7,414 there was a ratio of one homeless person to 247 residents. In Yucca Valley, where the total population has reached 22,900, the ratio is 318 to one. In San Bernardino the ratio is roughly 247 to one. In Redlands, the ratio is one to 391.
Of the total homeless population, 1,342 or 71 percent are male, 503 or 71. 6 percent are female; four or 0.2 percent are transgender; 16 or 0.9 percent are gender non-conforming and the gender/orientation of eight or 0.4 percent was unknown. There was one unaccompanied male under the age of 18. There were four unaccompanied females under the age of 18. There were 554 homeless individuals or 29.6 percent identified as Hispanic or Latino, 1,249 or 66.7 percent identified as non-Hispanic or Latino, and 70 or 3.7 percent of unknown ethnicity.
By race, 986 or 52.6 percent were white; 357 or 19.1 percent were black or African-American; 46 or 2.5 percent were American Indian or Alaskan Native; 13 or 0.7 percent were Asian; 11 or 0.6 percent were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; 348 or 18.5 percent were of multiple race ancestry; and 112 or 6 percent were of unknown race.
There were 729 children living with their families who were homeless.
Among adults and unaccompanied children, five or 0.3 percent, in total, were under the age of 18; 135 or 7.2 percent were aged 18 to 24; 612 or 32.6 percent were aged 25 to 39; 394 or 21 percent were aged 40 to 49; 247 or 13.1 percent were aged 50 to 54; 277 or 14.7 percent were aged 55 to 61; and 145 or 7.7 percent were over the age of 62. The age could not be determined for 63 or 3.4 percent.
The report noted a “significant” increase in the number of people who have become homeless for the first time and that a “significant number of persons are aging on the streets.
According to the report, “Particular attention should be given to those persons who are languishing on the streets and who have life-threatening chronic health conditions. During the recent point-in-time count, persons counted were asked ‘Has a doctor or other medical professional ever told you that you have a chronic health condition that is life-threatening such as heart, lung, liver, kidney or cancerous disease?’ Three hundred and forty-six (346) unsheltered persons or 18.5% of all unsheltered adults stated ‘yes.’ Particular attention should also be given to persons aging on the streets. There is a significant number of persons who are aging on the streets. In 2019, the number of persons counted as unsheltered who were age 55+ was 422. In 2018, the number of persons counted as unsheltered who were age 55+ was 246. This represents an increase of 176 persons or 71.5%. According to the preponderance of research in this area, the growth of elder homelessness can be attributed to the aging of existing chronically homeless individuals. Thus, targeting the needs of the elderly homeless by making sure that housing that is accessible with persons with disabilities and transportation to medical appointments is available is important.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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