Record number of volunteers come out for Point-in-Time Count of the homeless

Two female volunteers talk to a homeless person outside a food restaurant.

With assistance from a record number of volunteers, San Bernardino County and its partner cities, towns and agencies conducted the 2023 Point-In-Time Count of the county’s homeless population on Thursday morning.

The results, which will be tabulated and announced during the coming months, will help determine how much assistance the county receives from the federal government to address homelessness.

A group of four volunteers seen walking side-by-side in a street with a business store seen in the background.

“The Point-in-Time Count is a crucial part to developing and implementing a comprehensive plan to combat homelessness and provide a pathway to self-sufficiency. I want to thank our partners and the dedicated volunteers who took part in conducting this year’s survey,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Dawn Rowe.

More than 800 volunteers assisted in Thursday’s count, including more than 300 County employees.

Since the 2019 PITC, the County’s award-winning mobile application survey leveraging Esri’s Arc GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology has been used by volunteers throughout the county visiting riverbeds, underpasses, and anywhere else the homeless might be found to count them, ask them a series of questions to help the county determine how best to address the issue of homelessness, and assist those in immediate need of help.

The Point-in-Time count is crucial for funding and the results of the homeless count will provide the County and local cities with opportunities to develop local community and countywide strategies to help people exit life on the streets and by which the success of our efforts will improve the quality of life for San Bernardino County residents,” said Fifth District Supervisor Joe Baca, Jr.

Supervisor Joe Baca. Jr., is seen at a podium talking to volunteers at sunrise.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires local governments to conduct counts of their homeless populations every other year. However, San Bernardino County conducts an annual count in alignment with best practices recommended by HUD.

“Each year, we work to make a collective impact as a county to improve the processes created to reduce our homeless population. The efforts by volunteers, county staff, and community stakeholders have helped to make an impact in the lives of real people. It is through these concentrated and compassionate efforts that people experiencing homelessness find options and support. This is a crucial first step in improving the quality of life for people who have experienced hardships and need a helping hand,” said Fourth District Supervisor Curt Hagman.

After previously seeing increases in the number of unsheltered homeless people, last year’s Point-In-Time Count revealed a net decrease of one unsheltered person and a dramatic increase in the number of those in housing and shelters, demonstrating the success of the County-led efforts to provide housing options for the homeless.

The 2022 count showed a 6.6 percent increase in the total number of homeless, sheltered and unsheltered, which was a vast improvement from the 20 percent increase shown in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2021 count.

A group of volunteers are standing together preparing to start the Point-in-Time count at sunrise.

Last year’s count found 3,333 homeless persons in the county compared to 3,125 found in 2020. However, the unsheltered population decreased by one, from 2,390 in 2020 to 2,389 this year. This zero percent increase shows dramatic progress as each of the three previous counts in 2020, 2019, and 2018 showed double-digit percentage increases.

The 2022 count also found 209 more sheltered persons – those living in shelters and transitional housing – than were found in 2020, an increase of more than 28 percent, which demonstrates the County’s success in creating additional shelter space for our homeless population.

“Identifying our current state of homelessness will provide us a baseline on how to move our region forward,” said Second District Supervisor Jesse Armendarez. “Together, we will expand our services to those experiencing homelessness and mental health issues.”

In partnership with several community organizations and county departments – including the Sheriff, Behavioral Health, Aging and Adult Services, Public Health, and Probation – the county is building on the successes achieved by the pandemic-inspired Project Roomkey and Project Homekey to make serious progress toward addressing homelessness throughout San Bernardino County.

In May 2022 the Board of Supervisors launched a unified and strategic approach to tackling homelessness in San Bernardino County with clear, ambitious goals and an unprecedented alignment of 16 County departments.

The 2022 San Bernardino County Homeless Strategic Action Plan revolves around a Homeless to Home Roadmap to Self-Sufficiency and focuses on strengthening the ability of County departments and community partners to make a collective impact toward reducing and preventing homelessness by housing the most at-risk, increasing shelter capacity, and improving the current systems in place to shelter and serve the homeless.

The plan moves the County’s fight against homelessness from a collection of individual programs to a strategic and data-driven countywide response that directs the allocation of resources, services, and programs to improve the quality of life for all county residents.