Date changed, help still needed to count homeless in city, county
Riverside County’s point-in-time homeless count will be moved to February instead of the end of this month due to concerns about the recent upswing in coronavirus cases, which officials said Saturday they hoped would diminish in a month.
“We made the decision to postpone,” Department of Housing & Workforce Solutions Director Heidi Marshall said. “Our goal is to conduct a comprehensive and accurate count while ensuring appropriate safeguards for all involved.”
COVID-19 infections have contributed to nearly 1,000 hospitalizations countywide, according to the county Department of Public Health. Currently, there are 61 people at Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs admitted due to COVID. To give the latest virus wave time to taper off, officials rescheduled the point-in-time tally to Feb. 23-25. It was initially planned for Jan. 26-28.
According to the county, the additional time to recruit volunteers will also be helpful.
Members of faith-based groups, churches, civic affairs organizations, college students, and many others are needed for the effort.
“The information we collect allows us to make informed decisions about where our resources should be targeted,” Supervisor Karen Spiegel said when the count was announced last month.
Roughly 380 volunteers have signed up to date. Still, the county ideally would like to have more than 700 available to find and verify the status of individuals who may be living in cars, under bridges, in transient encampments, homeless shelters, and other locations throughout the county.
The 2021 homeless census was severely curtailed, with virtually no canvassing of known transient dwelling spaces, because of the coronavirus public health lockdowns last winter. Reports were based only on shelter interactions and did not accurately represent the county’s homeless population.
The January 2020 count revealed nearly 3,000 adults and youths were chronically homeless countywide — about a 3% increase from the prior year. In Palm Springs, 189 people were classified as chronically homeless in 2020. That number is believed to be much higher.
No previous experience with the point-in-time count is necessary to volunteer. Some training is required, and although youths as young as 16 can participate, minors will have to be accompanied by an adult, according to officials.
Volunteers must also have a smartphone or tablet to conduct the survey and be able to walk up to two hours.
The data is used by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development officials to determine how to distribute federal homeless relief funding. Policymakers assess the scope of homelessness nationwide — including what’s working and what’s not.
More information: All those interested in participating are encouraged to register at this website.
GUNFIRE OUTSIDE STORE: Two men traded gunfire during an altercation in a Palm Springs store parking lot Sunday, but no one was injured, and the pair remain at large, authorities said Monday. According to Palm Springs police, the confrontation occurred about 2 p.m. Sunday outside the Smart & Final in the 5200 block of East Ramon Road, just east of Highway 111. Police said the two men were involved in an unknown dispute that escalated into a gunfight, culminating in both pulling handguns and “shooting at each other.” Witnesses called 911 as shots rang out, and patrol officers converged on the location minutes later, but the two suspects had already fled, according to police. No bystanders were hurt, and there was no evidence at the scene that either man had been shot, investigators said. One suspect was described as heavy set, with a beard, wearing light-colored pants, a dark shirt, and a gold chain. The other man was slender, bearded, with long hair wrapped in a bun, wearing a multi-colored shirt and shorts. Anyone with information was asked to contact the police department at 760-323-8129.
DeHARTE A CANDIDATE: Palm Springs Pride President and CEO Ron deHarte, who currently chairs the city’s Human Rights Commission, plans to formally announce today that he will seek the District 3 City Council seat being vacated by Councilmember Geoff Kors. DeHarte has scheduled an event at 11:30 a.m. at Ruth Hardy Park to make the announcement. “As a small business owner, gay, Hispanic, father of two, I want Palm Springs to forever be a great place to live, work, and visit,” he said in an email. “I am running because I am a resident who cares about Palm Springs and believes we can have safe streets, sound economic development, a robust tourism economy, and accessible housing while being a leader in sustainability.” Kors, who announced last week he would not seek a third term, is listed among 10 early supporters of deHarte’s campaign. Others on the list include Mayor Lisa Middleton, Councilmember Christy Holstege, who served as mayor last year, Main Street President Joy Brown Meredith, and former Mayor Ron Oden.
QUAKE FELT: A magnitude 3.5 earthquake was reported at 11:39 p.m. Monday, four miles from Palm Springs. The quake was at a depth of 7.6 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In the past 10 days, there have been two earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater centered nearby. According to a recent three-year data sample, an average of 234 earthquakes with magnitudes between 3.0 and 4.0 occur per year in California and Nevada.
MIZELL CENTER: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers 16 programs and classes today, starting at 8:30 a.m. You can find a complete list of all today’s offerings online here.
SUNSHINE SISTERS: Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters will meet for a happy hour on the patio at Tropicale 4:30 p.m. You can sign up to be part of the group — formed to help women make new connections and friendships — on Meetup here.
SUSTAINABILITY: The city’s Sustainability Commission meets virtually at 5:30 p.m. A complete agenda, including instructions on how to view or take part in the meeting, can be found here.
TOASTMASTERS: Toastmasters, a nonprofit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication, public speaking, and leadership, meets virtually every Tuesday in Palm Springs starting at 6 p.m. Interested in participating? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and the Zoom link.
Need to get tested for COVID-19 but can’t find an at-home test and don’t know where to turn? Aside from asking your regular healthcare provider (if you have one), The Post maintains a list of places in and around the city that you can check. Please note the information is accurate at the time this email was sent, but may change.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
COMMUNITY CLEANUP: The first Community Cleanup of 2022 will be held Saturday, Jan. 22. Organizers with the Community Partnership on Homelessness (CPOH) encourage anyone who wants to help beautify the city to meet at the KFC parking lot at 725 South Palm Canyon Dr., at 8 a.m. Trash bags, disposable gloves, and water will be available. Closed-toed shoes and thicker gloves are recommended for your protection.
DISTRICT 1 MEETING: Mayor Pro Tem Grace Garner is hosting a District 1 Town Hall on Saturday, Jan. 22, starting at 1 p.m. The event will be held via Zoom, using this link. Garner will update constituents on matters of importance to them and also listen to residents discuss their concerns.
BENEFIT FOR INSTRUMENTS: An online benefit to raise money to purchase musical instruments for 3rd, 4th, and 5th-grade students in the Palm Springs Unified School District is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 22. LA Phil Affiliates in the Desert and the PSUSD Foundation will host the event on Zoom at 3 p.m. as part of the Zoom Salon Series. Featured will be saxophonist Vasti Andrade, a senior at Desert Hot Springs High School who has played the saxophone since 6th grade. More information about the event, including how to register, can be found here.
HBCU TOURS: The African American Parent Advisory Council (AAPAC) of the Palm Springs Unified School District recently announced two dozen students will be able to attend a tour of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in April completely free of charge. The deadline for application to attend the tour is Jan. 31. Selected students will fly with approved chaperones to Washington DC and visit several HBCU’s and landmarks in the surrounding area. An application form is available here, and a permission slip for the tour is available here.