Point-in-Time homeless count crucial for North County resources
"Where did you sleep last night? Is this the first time you’ve been homeless? How long have you been homeless?"
These are some of the questions volunteers set out to ask people experiencing homelessness in Thursday's county-wide Point-in-Time homeless count.
But for North County, that data can determine a boost in resources for people experiencing homelessness.
“Our cities invest some money in local shelters, but when we can demonstrate through counts like today just how many people are in situations like this, it shows the need for more investment from the federal government, from the state, and from the local government," said Greg Anglea, the CEO of Interfaith Community Services.
Interfaith Community Services provides the only low-barrier homeless shelter for all genders in North County.
Anglea expects the numbers to be higher in North County this year.
"Last year, we counted about 2,000 individuals experiencing homelessness just in North County," Anglea said. "There are only 150 shelter beds entirely in North County. So the availability of shelter just doesn't match the amount of people that are living in situations like this.”
He says this year's count is especially important for North County because it could mean a boost in additional funding for resources.
But for that, people experiencing homelessness must participate in the survey. As an incentive to boost participation, $10 McDonald's gift cards were provided to participants.
Jasmine Lee is one of the many participating in the count. She’s been homeless for about five years and says she feels forced to live in the encampment near the Escondido freeway.
"We have nowhere to go. And then you go out into the street and put an encampment out there and Escondido cops will not let you park your stuff anywhere. You literally have to come back to a zone like this," she said.
She’s made the area her home for about seven months. But cleaning sweeps by Caltrans have made it more difficult to find housing because Lee said IDs and documents are often discarded during those sweeps, making it difficult to apply for services and other basic necessities.
"You're being pulled back five steps. You wanna get a car, and you wanna do all these things, but you don't even have your ID ... and it's just back-to-back, constantly,” Lee said.
More shelter space is coming to North County, however.
Interfaith Community Services is preparing to open a 36-bed family shelter in March and Oceanside’s first homeless shelter is under construction and expected to open in June. That shelter will be 50 beds and ran by the San Diego Rescue Mission.
Data from this year's Point-in-Time homeless count will be available in May.
Whistleblowers alerted San Diego County about alleged poor treatment of employees in its public defender office in late 2020, before a multi-million dollar verdict. In other news, volunteers took to the streets to do the annual point-in-time count Thursday. Plus, we have details on some weekend arts events happening around San Diego County.
Hundreds of volunteers across the county coordinated this morning to accomplish one single task: record an accurate count of the region’s homeless population. Then, the woman at the center of a national conservative media firestorm, stemming from a shower she took at the Santee YMCA, addresses the Santee city council. Plus, the small California community of Half Moon Bay is still reeling from a mass shooting earlier this week. Later, a kitchen in Barrio Logan introduces students to potential culinary careers. Plus, we dig into our archive for a 2019 conversation with “Sesame Street” co-creator Lloyd Morrisett whose death was announced Monday. Finally, the San Diego Regional Arts and Culture Coalition has a new leader who is reimagining a ‘new normal’ for local artists and arts organizations.