SAN BERNARDINO-(VVNG.com): The San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership released preliminary findings of their homeless count on Friday. The results indicate a 12% decrease in homelessness during the past year according to the results.
The preliminary findings only provide a snapshot of homelessness on any given day and provide a baseline by which progress towards ending homelessness can be measured over the next few years. The nature of homelessness makes an exact count nearly impossible and numbers can vary greatly based on definitions established by funding sources and research methods. Therefore, the counting process does not, nor was it intended to, convey the total number of persons experiencing homelessness in San Bernardino County throughout 2016.
“San Bernardino County continues to make impressive progress in reducing homelessness in our County,” said Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Robert A. Lovingood. “I want to thank our dedicated County staff members and the Sheriff’s HOPE Team who, along with local nonprofits, have labored so hard on this is a difficult, heart-breaking problem. So it is encouraging to see that all of us working together are on the right track.”
The count was conducted between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on January 28, 2016. During this time, 1,887 people were counted in comparison with the 2,140 counted in 2015. Although the numbers are encouraging, some are left to wonder if the reason may be the April 2015 eviction of the homeless from the Riverbed area, just south of Stoddard Wells Road may have impacted these findings. The Board of Supervisors set the goal of ending veteran homelessness in San Bernardino County and they met that goal by the end of 2015.
“Homelessness is a national tragedy,” said Fifth District Supervisor and Chair of the Interagency Council on Homelessness Josie Gonzales. “We need to continue to help our disabled men and women, especially our veterans. Our County is making significant progress by implementing different state and federally funded programs. By prioritizing permanent housing we can better address the needs of our County’s homeless population.”
Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Third District Supervisor and Chair of the Homeless Youth Task Force, James Ramos also called for continued efforts to address homelessness.
“Unfortunately, homelessness is an issue that is still very real,” Chairman Ramos said. “It has an effect on many elements of our community, including the economy, education and wellness. While we understand that ending homelessness in our County is no easy task, it is imperative that we continue our resolve to prevent or reduce homelessness in our county, while providing platforms for the creation and maintenance of affordable housing for individuals and families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.”
As part of a HUD funding requirement, communities must produce these homeless counts every two years. The county’s incorporated cities and towns and designated non-profit agencies worked in collaboration with the San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership to recruit approximately 400 volunteers to count and survey the county’s homeless.
The San Bernardino County Homeless Partnership, a collaboration of public and private agencies committed to improving homeless services coordination, uses the findings of the report for future homeless resource development and planning. The findings also help to assess the progress of the San Bernardino County 10-Year Strategy to End Homelessness and provide important information for updating the strategy.
Community members who want to become involved in efforts to end homelessness should contact the Department of Behavioral Health, Office of Homeless Services, at (909) 386-8297.