Annual homeless count looking for more volunteers

Annual homeless count looking for more volunteers
Oceanside counted 150 unsheltered homeless people last year. This year’s count takes place Jan. 29. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — The annual Regional Task Force on the Homeless count happens at the end of the month and more volunteers are needed.

Oceanside needs about 60 additional volunteers to help with its census of city homeless.

The annual count helps identify trends, and is a requirement for cities and nonprofits to secure Department of Housing and Urban Development funds that are used to address homelessness.

“It enables our region to better understand the scope, impact and potential solutions to homelessness,” Angie Hanifin, Oceanside housing program manager, said.

This year’s countywide count takes place between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. Jan. 29 and covers  4,000 square miles.

It provides a one-day snapshot of people living on the street, in cars, in abandoned buildings and in emergency shelters and transitional housing.

Volunteers sign up online, meet at deployment centers the day of the count, receive how-to instructions and a map of an area to cover, and are sent out in teams of two or three.

Censuses at homeless encampment sites are taken by police officers.

During the count sheltered homeless and 20 percent of unsheltered homeless are interviewed.

Census information guides programs aimed at helping homeless families, veterans and individuals.

Trends over the past past five years have shown unsheltered homeless counts peaks and declines.

The city of San Diego had its peak count in 2012 of 3,500 people. Since then the number of homeless individuals has steadily decline to 2,500 in 2014, with a slight uptick last year of 2,750.

In Encinitas unsheltered homeless had its highest count a year earlier in 2011, with 140 counted. In 2013 the low of 30 people was recorded. In the past two years that number has risen steadily. Last year’s count was 80 homeless.

Oceanside’s trends reflected those of San Diego. Its count was highest in 2012 with 225 unsheltered homeless. That number declined annually through 2014, dropping to a count of 100 people. Like San Diego and Encinitas, last year brought an increase in unsheltered homeless at 150.This year’s annual homeless count takes place rain or shine. Volunteers can sign up at rtfhsd.org.

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