Nevada County’s Homeless Point in Time Count set for Thursday in Grass Valley, North San Juan, Truckee |

Nevada County’s Homeless Point in Time Count set for Thursday in Grass Valley, North San Juan, Truckee

Nichole Carlson gets her hair cut by Eva Vesely of Artistic Edge, who volunteered her services during last year's homeless count event. in this 2018 photo.
Elias Funez/

Know & Go

Homeless Point in Time Count events take place in Grass Valley, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Interfaith Food Ministry, 440 Henderson Ave.; on the San Juan Ridge from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the North San Juan Community Center, 29190 Highway 49, North San Juan, CA: and in Truckee from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Food and Resource Support Center, 10111 E St.

Nevada County’s Homeless Point in Time Count is, as its name suggests, a snapshot.

That one particular moment in time, a single day where the Homeless Continuum of Care conducts a count of individuals and families experiencing homelessness, cannot represent a full reality.

But it still serves as a useful baseline, homeless advocates say.

“Across the board, it’s challenging to get an accurate number based on one day,” acknowledged Continuum of Care Coordinator Scott Thurmond. “We are well aware of the limitations of that.”

But Thurmond noted that nationwide this year, jurisdictions are conducting their own point in time count of both sheltered homeless (those living in emergency shelters, motels paid for by an agency or transitional housing) and unsheltered homeless (those living outside, in cars, or other places not meant for human habitation), which is mandated every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The counts must be conducted during one day during the last 10 days of January, he said,

“It’s across the board,” Thurmond added, calling it “an even playing field.”

The coordinator noted that the federal government mandates a “sheltered” count every year, and a full count every other year.

Last year, Nevada County opted to do a full count, even though it was not mandated.

“We think it’s wise to have an accurate sense of our homeless population on an annual basis,” Thurmond said.

Nevada County used those 2018 numbers in its strategic plan, he said, adding that those statistics have become increasingly important in securing state funding.

Last year showed a significant drop from the year before. But as Nevada County staff noted, various factors can affect these results since they are performed on a single night — such as weather (the 2018 count was performed on a cold and snowy day), location of the event, etc. The counts have fluctuated from a low of 190 in 2011 to the 2017 count of 371, with an average of 278.

In 2018, shelters including Hospitality House, the Sierra Roots Warming Center, the Truckee Warming Center and Booth Family Center counted their guests on the night of Jan. 24. The next day, Nevada County and multiple community organizations (including Hospitality House, Salvation Army, Sierra Roots, SPIRIT Peer Empowerment Center, Community Beyond Violence, and Pets In Need) hosted a Homeless Connect event at the Salvation Army in Grass Valley, with a wide variety of services including free food and clothing as well as flu shots, haircuts and legal help.

Surveyors — both at the event and on the streets — asked participants questions including how long they lived in Nevada County prior to experiencing homelessness, the reasons they stay in the area, their genders, ages, mental health conditions and more.

Of the 272 surveyed, 44 percent said they are chronically homeless, 35 percent reported having a serious mental illness, and 22 percent said they have a substance use disorder.

This year, said Thurmond, there are multiple locations for the Point in Time count at events that include brief surveys, a hot meal, services such as CalFRESH, CalWORKS and Public Health, and donated clothing, supplies, and gift cards. Community partners will also open their doors during the day to conduct surveys and offer gift cards, including Hospitality House, SPIRIT Peer Empowerment Center, the Family Resource Centers and the Madelyn Helling and Grass Valley libraries.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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