Friday, April 10, 2009

Street Count, 2009 Data: Homelessness up 4.6% in county in past year

The Street Count, 2009, shows an increase in homelessness in Sacramento county from 2008 to 2009 of just 4.6%. The count of homeless went from 2678 to 2800.

This data is likely to mystify the public, which from local news reports and the recent months of a national news frenzy, would lead the public to believe there's been a massive boom.

Chronic homelessness, usually defined as people out-on-the street [and not sofa surfing] for a year or more is down. HUD, and the survey uses this definition: "Unaccompanied individuals with a documented disabling condition who have either been continuously on the street or in an emergency shelter for a year or more or has had at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years." Whew.

Anyway, the chronically homeless [by the HUD definition], which are targetted for housing placements, are a subset of the Street Count totals, and are down from 680 to 468. "Other homeless," [that is, the non-chronic homeless, by the HUD definition] are up, from 1998, last year, to 2332, this year.

Many homeless are not reported in the Street Count that is sent to HUD. They are not reported since they are not on the street, but data on them was collected this year. They total 472. Here's the breakdown: In a Sac'to county jail, 344; in a county mental-health facility, 33; in a county alcohol- or drug-treatment facility, 82; in a county hospital, 13.

Here are "characteristics" of the homeless, according to the report:
Characteristic #Percent
of 2800
Chronically Homeless46816.7%
Mentally Ill75326.9%
Substance Abuse 134548.0%
Veterans 42615.2%
People with HIV/AIDS 602.1%
Victims of Domestic Violence69925.0%
Unaccompanied Youth (under 18) 351.3%
Another very important measurement indicates an increase in suffering families. Here, the DHA measures households, and individuals that makeup household, but includes people in transitional housing – not just families on the streets or in shelters, as with DHA's other counts. This measurement indicate there's been a 14.6% increase in households that are homeless, up from 161 to 184 in 2009, compared to 2008.

Homeless individuals who are part of families increased from 442 to 541 in a year. That's a 22.4% increase. THIS is a big increase; nearly a hundred individuals.

Street Count data does not differentiation in the reporting between families on the street and those in transitional housing – even though there is a huge difference as a matter of quality of life. Possibly, the raw data gives subtotals which would be of great interest. SacHo is seeking to get a breakdown.

Update 4/15: Lucinda Serynek of DHA is working at pulling more detail out of the data for SacHo. Stay tuned.


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