FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact:                      Elliott Robinson, Interim Executive Officer

Coalition of Homeless Services Providers

Telephone:                             831-883-3080

E-Mail:                                   Executive@CHSPMontereyCounty.org

Monterey County, California (August 22, 2019):  The Coalition of Homeless Services Providers, with funding from the County of Monterey, conducted the biannual Point-in-Time Homeless Count on January 31, 2019 and the results are now available.  By regulation, the 2019 Homeless Census utilizes the definition used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which only includes persons who are unsheltered, living in shelters and places not meant for human habitation – it does not include persons who are living in unstable housing, over-crowded housing or doubled up with others due to economic hardship.

The number of individuals counted in the general street and shelter count in Monterey County was 2,422.  This represents a decrease of 415 (14.6%) from the Homeless Census conducted in 2017. Factors that may have influenced the decline include:

  • An increase in the General Assistance grant available to homeless individuals from $133 per month to $340 per month, which took place August 2017;
  • The addition of new affordable housing opportunities that provide housing opportunities for low to moderate income seniors and families that otherwise may have struggled to find housing – Dai-Ichi Village (41 senior housing units), Hikari (50 family housing units), and Veteran Transition Center (22 permanent supportive housing units);
  • Expanded use of the Homeless Coordinated Assessment and Referral System which prioritizes housing resources for individuals and families with the greatest barriers – this process placed more than 300 people with high needs into housing since January 2017;
  • Implementation of the Whole Person Care initiative which provides intensive case management to homeless individuals with high cost health problems; and,
  • Shelter resources were expanded – the Salinas Warming Shelter converted to a year-round shelter, Interim Inc. added 13 crisis residential beds and Veterans Transition Center added 10 emergency shelter beds.

It is also important to acknowledge that the Homeless Census does not likely capture the complete extent of homelessness – the HUD mandated methodology requires that the street count portion of the Census be conducted as a visual count of homelessness on a single morning during the last ten days of January. This methodology is subject to a number of uncontrollable variables such as weather, availability of volunteers, and the visibility of individuals without housing. However, it is a consistent methodology mandated by HUD and employed in communities throughout the nation to provide a snapshot of this difficult to count population.

Of the 2,422 individuals experiencing homelessness counted in the Monterey County Homeless Census:

  • 24% were staying in shelters (either emergency shelters or transitional housing),
  • 22% were living on streets,
  • 19% were staying in vehicles,
  • 18% were staying in tent encampments,
  • 9% were staying in structures not intended for sleeping, and
  • 7% were staying in motels/hotels paid for by a homeless services agency.

The Homeless Census is supplemented with a survey which provides more detailed information to better assess the circumstances of residents experiencing homelessness. Notable findings include: a significant majority (78%) claim Monterey County as their residence prior to becoming homeless.  More than half of the respondents (55%) reported that the current episode of homelessness is the first time they’ve experienced loss of housing – up from 35% in 2017. Also, 59% reported that financial issues were the primary cause of homelessness, up from 43% in 2017.

The Homeless Census provides further information that informs efforts to address and prevent homelessness in our community:

  • The count of individuals experiencing homelessness declined from 2017 in most jurisdictions across the County. However, increases were counted in Seaside, Gonzales, Soledad, King City, Greenfield and North Monterey County communities of Prunedale and Pajaro;
  • 40% of people experiencing homelessness were 51 years or older, as compared to 23% in 2017. This reflects a growing challenge experienced by older people, more often living on fixed incomes, with paying the growing cost of housing;
  • There were 596 people living as members of a family with children experiencing homelessness – approximately 25% of the population as compared to 19% in 2017 (caution should be used in assessing this change, as only one of the County’s 24 school districts participated in the 2017 Census and ten school districts participated in the 2019 Census);
  • There were a total of 562 individuals chronically homeless individuals with one or more disabling conditions in 2019 – 23% of the homeless population, compared to 21% in 2017; and,
  • There were 172 veterans identified in the Census, this represents 7% of the homeless population – an increase from 4% counted in 2017.

As always, caution should be exercised in assessing the overall numbers in the Homeless Census count. As noted above, the mandated methodology cannot capture the full extent of homelessness in a community. However, it is a consistent process employed in communities throughout the nation to provide a snapshot of this difficult to count population.

After examining findings from the Homeless Census it is clear that homelessness remains a difficult issue in communities across Monterey County – with growing challenges in south and north county communities. The growth in the population over age 50, along with increased reports of first-time homelessness and financial issues as the primary cause of homelessness demonstrates the ongoing challenge of climbing housing costs impacting individuals living on fixed incomes or working in low wage jobs. The challenges associated with high rents and low vacancy rates for rental housing makes it difficult for people to find a unit even when they have income or rental assistance.

Coalition of Homeless Services Providers Interim Executive Officer Elliott Robinson states, “The decline in the number of people living without housing that was identified in the Homeless Census should for provide some cautious optimism that the focus of local and state leaders on addressing the homeless crisis is having an impact – but there is still a long way to go. Each community around the County impacted by people living on the streets, in encampments or in their cars remains focused on working towards ending homelessness among their residents. The findings from the Homeless Census which counted a decline doesn’t change the ongoing urgency to continue working towards long term solutions toward ending the cycle of homelessness in our community.

The Homeless Census will presented to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors on August 27th. You can read the full 2019 Homeless Census and find out more information about the Coalition of Homeless Services Providers at www.chspmontereycounty.org

 

To view the 2019 Homeless Census, click here.

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