Monday, January 5, 2009

Bi-Annual Streetcount Set for January 27

Graphic from the DHA webpage for StreetCount 2009.

The bi-annual streetcount of county homeless will proceed on the evening of January 27, according to a page on the Sacramento county DHA website, and an article in yesterday's Bee.

A count of the county homeless happens every two years. The last count was conducted on January 30, 2007.

The County of Sacramento Department of Human Assistance webpage tells us they are seeking 350 volunteers to help with the 2009 count which will be done between the hours of 8pm and midnight.

The DHA explains the reason for the count as follows:

  • learn about the size of the homeless population that we are trying to serve;
  • refine existing programs so that they do a better job at engaging and serving the homeless;
  • develop new programs where service gaps exist;
  • make policy decisions by the respective Boards that oversee ending the homeless problem in Sacramento.
Further, each community that receives Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding for services to the homeless is required to count the homeless every other year. Sacramento County receives approximately $13.5 million per year from HUD to provide funding to operate emergency shelters, transitional and permanent supportive housing projects and other vital supportive services.
Sacramento County does not count each homeless person; instead it uses a statistical sampling method which employs the following nine steps/elements:
  • It is based upon successful methods used in other communities, most notably New York City
  • It required two weeks of information gathering with subject matter experts regarding where the homeless are, or have been, residing recently
  • This information was then mapped onto a huge map of the county
  • The density of homeless in each area was taken into consideration
  • A research scientist and our Homeless Count consultants then decided which areas would be count areas
  • Each area is then randomly placed in an order and we are required to send teams out in that exact order
  • The count tally sheets tabulate what the count teams see in the field. If they see a tent, they will mark tent. If they see a vehicle, they will mark vehicle
  • The consultants and researchers then apply a formula to what the count teams have counted, assigning a value to tents and vehicles
  • The count for our community is then extrapolated from this data

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