Nevada County homeless point-in-time count continues to evolve
Just over a decade after Nevada County began its first homeless point-in-time count, government agencies, nonprofits and community members involved are still working toward a process that will ensure every person counts.
Shelters across Nevada County participated in a homeless count Tuesday and Wednesday that focused on auditing the region’s capacity to shelter those in need by tallying the amount of shelter beds available and people using them.
In 2018 the county counted 170 sheltered homeless people. This year’s official count will not be released for a few weeks but according to shelter officials there were at least 100 participants, with Hospitality House and the Sierra Roots at near capacity.
It’s expected the numbers will increase since the last sheltered count simply due to greater community partner collaboration, said Nevada County housing director Mike Dent.
Homeless refuges like Hospitality House, Salvation Army Booth Family Center, the North San Juan Community Center and Sierra Roots Weather Shelter took part in the count, offering breakfast, dinner, case management and referral services and other resources as available.
While some shelters like Hospitality House offer these services year round, others like the Salvation Army Family Booth Center were only open on account of the count.
According to Sierra Roots shelter coordinator Alice Johnson, while the services may have attracted more people to the count, not everyone who used them stayed the night and were therefore not included in the count, which only totals overnight stays. Additionally, some people who stayed at the shelter didn’t want to answer questionnaires that help collect data on those experiencing homelessness.
While the Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates full homeless counts every odd-numbered year, during even years only a count of sheltered individuals is required.
According to Dent, while focus on sheltered people does help the county learn how much capacity it has to help in terms of bed count, there have been informal talks during Nevada County regional Continuum of Care meetings about the need to go further annually.
“It’s a topic that we’re talking about,” Dent said. “We haven’t taken voting action on it, but we’re realizing that data is important and consistent data is probably the best.”
According to Booth Center shelter coordinator David Shinpaugh, the Salvation Army will continue supporting homeless individuals and any changes to the count format going forward as the process evolves, so long as it can continue to help those in need.
“We enjoy giving, we enjoy helping people as much as we can,” Shinpaugh said. “The people are very happy to have a place to stay and always grateful. Whatever limitations or requirements are placed on us, we’re happy to help as much as we can.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229
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