Roughly 800 people will fan out across Riverside County Tuesday, going into camps, searching under bridges and visiting shelters to tally the number of homeless countywide as part of an annual survey.
The 2019 “Point-in-Time Homeless Count” will involve staff from the Department of Public Social Services, along with a phalanx of volunteers to canvass multiple locations.
In January 2018, a total of 486 volunteers participated in the operation. Natalie Komuro, deputy director of homeless solutions for DPSS, said the number this time is closer to 800.
“The significant turnout of volunteers demonstrates how much residents in Riverside County care about doing something to address homelessness,” Komuro said.
Individuals affiliated with faith-based organizations, college students, members of neighborhood watch groups and others will be lending a hand.
The countywide census is mandated under a U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development grant. The count factors into the amount of funding for homeless mitigation programs that the county receives.
The operation will be split between a street-level operation and a “service-based survey,” officials said. During the street walk, volunteers will leave from 31 locations to visit parks, alleyways, overpasses and encampments, hoping to ascertain the number of people living in places not intended for habitation, according to DPSS.
The service survey will entail visiting shelters. Volunteers will also be asked to concentrate on identifying homeless youths, identified as anyone under 25 years old without a fixed residence.
Officials noted that this year, a mobile app, ESRI Survey 123, will be the primary means of documenting the number of dispossessed people in the county. The app replaces the old method of putting pen to paper.
The 2018 homeless count identified about 2,300 adults and children living on the streets and in shelters countywide, a 5 percent drop compared to 2017, according to DPSS figures.
Results of this year’s survey will be published in the spring, officials said.
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