The results of Riverside County’s single day point-in-time count of homeless people are in, and there are few surprised for Palm Springs.
Driving the news: Volunteers fanned out across the county, including here in Palm Springs, in February. Their task was to simply count how many people were on the streets during one period of one day. It marked the first in-person count in two years due to the pandemic. Results were released this week, and they are used to help determine the county’s allotment of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding.
By the numbers: This year’s count was 15% higher than the count in 2020. An estimated 3,316 people were found to be chronically homeless in the county on Feb. 23. In Palm Springs, 222 people were found to be living on the streets that day. That’s second only to Riverside, which had 514. In Corona there were 110, and Indio had 105.
What they’re saying: County Supervisor Karen Spiegel questioned if the numbers were accurate:
- “The numbers seem very low. It’s hard to reach everyone at that one point in time. I mean, you see a homeless encampment, and when you go there, there’s nobody there.'”
Off the streets: Heidi Marshall, director of the county’s Housing, Homelessness Prevention & Workforce Solutions Department, told the Board of Supervisors that despite the apparent overall increase in the homeless population, we are gaining ground in getting people housed.
- Data shows the “sheltered” homeless population is increasing, while the number of “unsheltered” homeless people is dropping.
- Still, the number of unsheltered people still outweighs the sheltered population (1,980 versus 1,336).
Federal money: Almost $200 million in federal COVID relief funds have been spent to reduce the risk of homelessness, but most of it has been spent on rental assistance, not on addressing the root causes of homelessness.
What’s next: Marshall wants the county to focus on “gaps in services” like helping the homeless population with substance abuse and mental disorders.
- In Palm Springs, city and county officials are teaming with Indio-based Martha’s Village & Kitchen to stand up a homeless services center in the north part of the city.