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City Manager's Blog

Apr 11

[ARCHIVED] 2018 Official Homeless Counts

The original item was published from April 11, 2018 12:26 PM to June 27, 2018 9:14 AM

As uncomfortable as it may be, homelessness is part of our story in this great City of Modesto, and the overall number of those experiencing homelessness in this state is growing.  In California, the rise is alarming, at 68.2%.  Out of the 134,278 recorded homeless, the Central Valley has 7,336, the fourth highest region in the state.  82.7% of the homeless in Stanislaus County are in Modesto.  It’s no wonder Modesto and our community partners have rallied together to do our part in making a positive difference in this homelessness crisis. (Reference)

On January 24, 2018, 160 community volunteers participated in the annual sheltered and unsheltered Point-In-Time (PIT) count, covering Ceres, Denair, Empire, Hughson, Hickman, Keyes, Modesto, Newman, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Salida, Turlock, and Waterford. 

The PIT is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January. The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that a Continuum of Care  conduct an annual count of homeless persons who are sheltered in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and safe havens. 

Out of 1,284 surveys that were collected, 551 households  – totaling 737 persons – were unsheltered, and 525 households – totaling 608 persons – were sheltered, giving us the reported total of 1,075  homeless households and 1,345 total homeless persons in our community. 

To break it down even further, out of those 1,345 persons, 168 were children under the age of 18, 98 were youth ages 18 to 24, 1,079 were persons over the age 24; we also counted 88 Veterans. All of these numbers represent a slight decrease from the numbers reported in 2017, though the city feels any number is unacceptable.  

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, the leading causes of homelessness include lack of affordable housing, poverty (influenced by the lack of employment opportunities and the decline in public assistance), lack of affordable health care, domestic violence, mental illness and addiction.

From the head of households surveyed, 29.3% reported a substance use disorder, 25.9% had severe mental illness, 25.4% reported post-traumatic stress disorder, and 1.3% had an HIV/AIDS related illnesses. 16.9% were homeless because of domestic violence, 10.2% had a developmental disability, 26.1% have a chronic physical illness, and 7.6% experienced a brain injury. 

After analyzing the 2018 PIT data, you may be asking yourself, as I did, why the decrease here when the numbers for the state increased? 

Here’s one perspective, and although I wish I could say the decrease shows that homelessness in the area has already improved, this year’s decrease is really a function of what suffers when administrative duties transition from one group to another.  

The Continuum of Care Council/Collaborative went through a complete restructure with a new governing council.  City of Modesto assumed the role of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Administrator, a web-based system that tracks the characteristics of homeless individuals and families who are homeless or ask risk of homelessness for Federal Reporting, and the Stanislaus Community System of Care (formerly known as the Stanislaus County Housing and Support Services Collaborative/Continuum of Care. 

In the days prior to the homeless count in Modesto, the City posted notices in Beard Brook Park on two different occasions stating they would be removing the homeless camps on Thursday, the day of the count, which did take place. There has been several different reports as to the exact time this took place but the fact that signs were posted could possibly of had an impact on the decrease in numbers. 

Many groups are meeting regularly to address homelessness in this city, and I’m so encouraged by this progress.  Next year, I hope to be able to report that homeless numbers are dropping because of the great work of those passionate advocates.