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Home / Neighborhood / San Bernardino / San Bernardino homeless census shows flattening numbers, but unsheltered homelessness rises

San Bernardino homeless census shows flattening numbers, but unsheltered homelessness rises

by Staff
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The homeless population in San Bernardino County increased 1% during the past year, compared with a 26% last year and 6.6% the year before, officials announced Wednesday.

Data from the county’s Jan. 25 Point-in-Time Count showed the homeless population added 42 people, totaling 4,237 from 4,195 last year. The count also showed a 3.1% decrease in the number of individuals that had temporary living arrangements in a public or private shelter at the time of the count.

However, the number of unsheltered homeless individuals increased by 79 individuals, or 2.6%, compared with 2023 data.

“This data shows a flattening of our homeless numbers, which is a promising sign that we are heading in the right direction,” 4th District Supervisor Curt Hagman said in a statement. 

Hagman and 5th District Supervisor Joe Baca Jr. serve on the County Homelessness Ad Hoc Committee.

“The County of San Bernardino is taking significant strides to address this issue head-on,” Baca said in a statement. “We are investing in projects like Kern Street and Pacific Village to provide essential services like substance use treatment and recuperative care beds. These efforts are crucial for improving the health and well-being of our community.”

In September, Board of Supervisors Chair Dawn Rowe started the formation of the ad hoc committee under the direction of the county’s Chief Executive Officer Luther Snoke. The committee’s purpose was to explore the root causes of homelessness and provide recommendations to the board on policies, strategies and partnership options to address the issue, officials said. 

Earlier in 2023, supervisors approved a $72.7 million Homelessness Spending Plan, with an additional $20 million “reserved for bridging the gaps in current projects,” according to the county. This augmented the San Bernardino County Behavioral Health Department’s efforts to get nearly $89 million in grant funding to establish or expand facilities and the number of shelter beds. 

Over 500 volunteers including county supervisors went throughout the county on Jan. 25 for the annual homeless census.

The count and a “subpopulation survey” was a collaborative exercise involving the San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership, the County Office of Homeless Services and the Institute for Urban Initiatives. 

A total of 24 cities and towns contributed staff time and office space for volunteer training and deployment. 

Twenty-four law enforcement agencies assisted the count by providing “time, knowledge and expertise regarding locations of homeless persons,” and several nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, homeless-services providers and county departments also helped.

Point-in-Time Count volunteers used the Esri’s Survey 123-ArcGIS software platform to record data.  

“A digital survey form was designed to simplify the surveyor’s experience as only relevant questions were displayed based on the answers input, eliminating the need for surveyors to devote time and effort to determining which questions to ask and resulting in a streamlined surveying experience,” according to the county. “An added benefit of using digital surveys was the capture of location information. When a survey was conducted, the global positioning system (GPS) location of the surveyor’s mobile device was captured, providing the geographic location of where the survey took place, and opening opportunities for mapping and analyses.”

The full report is available at tinyurl.com/5n9x88s8.

Sheriff’s deputies helped this family connect with housing. | Photo courtesy of San Bernardino County

Three families sheltered via Operation Shelter Me

Three families with children living unsheltered in Victorville and surrounding unincorporated areas of San Bernardino County were located and immediately connected to housing on May 24 by the sheriff’s Homeless Outreach Proactive Enforcement Team, or HOPE, county officials announced. 

The families were among 80 people, who included 10 military veterans, contacted during a daylong effort by the sheriff’s department known as Operation Shelter Me. 

The HOPE Team referred 67 individuals to services, and 16 were connected to a service, officials said. More than 75% of the individuals contacted were open to receiving assistance. 

“While service capacity is limited, the teams will continue to work with this population to get them into services as they become available,” according to a county statement.
 
The purpose of Operation Shelter Me is to connect staff with the county’s unhoused residents and provide them housing, medical care and mental health treatment. During the May 24 operation, the HOPE Team focused on individuals with the most severe mental illness to get them connected with “restorative mental health pathways.”
 
In June 2023, San Bernardino County opted into Laura’s Law, which is also called Assisted Outpatient Treatment. The state law provides court-ordered treatment for people who have been hospitalized or incarcerated and have histories of violence to themselves or others. Deputies identified two individuals as possible Laura’s Law referrals during the most recent outreach effort and referred them to the Department of Behavioral Health for evaluation and possible treatment services.

California Senate Bill 170 provides funding to the sheriff’s department for homeless outreach efforts. 

Officials advised residents who know of individuals experiencing homelessness to call the HOPE Team at 909-387-0623 or email hope@sbcsd.org.

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