SLO County conducting survey to collect data on homelessness

Jeremy Garza

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San Luis Obispo County is conducting a Point In Time (PIT) Count survey on Jan. 23 to collect the most accurate data on people in the community currently experiencing homelessness. The county is looking for volunteers to help conduct the survey and is encouraging Cal Poly community members and students to get involved, according to SLO County Homelessness Management Information System Manager and PIT Count Coordinator Kari Howell.

The PIT Count is a biannual federally mandated survey that is conducted across the country under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Their goal is to determine need-based funding for homeless services and better gauge the needs of those experiencing homelessness in the community. 

Howell said that the survey is also an opportunity to ask the unsheltered community additional questions to learn about their experiences – like asking where they lived before their current state of homelessness.

“In 2022, more than 90% of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness had housing in San Luis Obispo six months prior,” Howell said. 

Howell said this statistic helps disprove the common myth that individuals who are homeless move to places that have housing services, which in turn works against the community’s effort to support these individuals. 

“We’re learning about folks already in our community and how we can serve them better. This gives us an opportunity to create a system-wide change,” Howell said.

As part of SLO’s greater community, Cal Poly students have the opportunity to volunteer in conducting this research that could guide homelessness strategic response for years to come, according to Howell. 

“Even if you live here for a short time, you’re a member of this community and you’re a valuable member of this community,” Howell said. “Learning more about the most vulnerable members of your county is going to help you be a better person. When you’re a better person, you’re a better student.”

Individuals over the age of 18 – and 16 or older with parental permission – can sign up to volunteer for the 2024 PIT Count until Friday. Participants must take a mandatory two-hour training in person or virtually during this week starting Monday to volunteer. For more information, head to the SLO County PIT Count webpage. 

“We are looking for volunteers who are compassionate and ready to learn more about homelessness response in our community,” Howell said in a news release from the county.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development creates an Annual Homeless Assessment Report with the survey data. The reports are used by U.S. Congress to help create more effective legislation to supply funding for services to support the unhoused community across the country.

The 2022 survey, with strictly observational methodology to follow COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines, shows that 1,448 individuals were reportedly experiencing homelessness in SLO County at the time of the survey. 80% of those individuals were without shelter at the time of the count.

San Luis Obispo County | Courtesy

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2024-01-09 17:00:00 , Mustang News

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