Annual Homelessness Count Shows Shifting Population in Contra Costa County
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
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Contra Costa's annual survey to document people experiencing homelessness showed a 7 percent drop overall in 2017 compared to last year, but a substantial rise in Central County, according to a report released by Contra Costa Health Services' Division of Health, Housing and Homeless Services (H3).
H3 and its community partners, including many volunteers, surveyed county residents living in emergency shelters or outdoors on Jan. 25 and released detailed findings this week in the 2017 Point in Time Count report, available at ccheath.org/h3
The report shows that 1,607 people without housing during that 24-hour period were counted, including 911 who were living outside. About 1,100 were documented living outside in 2016.
"We are glad that we found fewer people experiencing homelessness. But there is a great deal more work to be done, and the housing market makes it more difficult," H3 Director Lavonna Martin said. "It's not surprising that 80 percent of those we surveyed lost their housing right here in Contra Costa County."
Substantially more people were counted this year in central Contra Costa – 331 living outdoors without shelter – after an atypically low count in 2016. Numbers did decline elsewhere, including East County, which had experienced a 30 percent increase from 2015 to 2016.
Since the count, H3 and the Contra Costa Council on Homelessness have launched Coordinated Entry, a new initiative to streamline service delivery and enhance collaboration among the county's network of nonprofit, faith-based and government providers of homeless services.
Concord, Martinez, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek all joined the effort this spring. Martinez and Pleasant Hill split the cost of a full-time, county-operated outreach team to connect homeless residents within their borders with shelter and services. Concord and Walnut Creek are splitting the cost of a second team, and Contra Costa's Public Works Department also funds a team for the county's creeks and waterways.
Those city-specific Coordinated Outreach, Referral and Engagement (CORE) teams join three other CORE teams that operate elsewhere in the county. Other elements of Coordinated Entry include:
- Regional service centers connecting clients to shelter, medical and mental health care, case managers, substance use disorder treatment and services, benefit counselors, and long-term housing;
- Overnight warming centers that supplement existing emergency shelters;
- A universal, web-based information management system used by all providers of homeless services in the county to maximize use of their collective resources;
- A standardized intake and assessment system that streamlines delivery of housing and other services to the most vulnerable clients.
Coordinated Entry is funded in part through $1.2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Contra Costa's point-in-time count also fulfills a HUD requirement to document the extent of homelessness within jurisdictions receiving its funding.
Visit cchealth.org/h3 to read the 2017 Point-in-Time Count report.
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- Karl Fischer,