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More than 80% of California’s 44 Continuums of Care Will Not Conduct a 2021 Point-in-Time Unsheltered Count Because of the Pandemic

City Net volunteer and licensed vocational nurse Angie Munoz, left, and lead case manager Jennifer Munoz speak with homeless men in the 1800 block of Placentia Avenue in Costa Mesa during last January’s Orange County Point in Time count.(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

By: Joe Colletti PhD
January 25, 2021 —

  • Unsheltered 2021 Point-in-Time (PIT) Count data will not be available for State legislative, funding, policy and planning purposes unlike past count data
  • All 44 California CoCs should be encouraged to conduct a 2022 PIT unsheltered count, even though HUD does not require PIT unsheltered counts during even number years, provided there are no longer any pandemic related reasons preventing CoCs to safely conduct one
  • Half of California’s 44 CoCs do not conduct a PIT unsheltered count during even number years which means their 2019 PIT unsheltered total count data, including the total for unsheltered persons by housing type and various subpopulations, will not be updated locally and statewide until 2023

As noted in the table below, 36 or 82% of California’s 44 Continuums of Care (CoC) will not conduct a 2021 Point-in-Time (PIT) unsheltered count after notifying the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is required. HUD provided a process for CoCs to submit notification that they will not conduct an unsheltered count because of safety reasons related to the pandemic. HUD granted approval to CoCs if notification was submitted by January 20. All 44 California CoCs notified HUD by the deadline.

For a pdf copy of California CoC map click here

Of the remaining eight CoCs, five will conduct a modified unsheltered count, such as a head count without collecting subpopulation data. Three CoCs will conduct an unsheltered count using a methodology similar to the one used in past years.
Implications
All of California’s 44 CoCs should conduct an unsheltered count in 2022 if there are no pandemic related reasons preventing CoCs to safely conduct one. HUD only requires CoCs to conduct a PIT unsheltered count during the last ten days of January in odd number years. Only about half of California’s CoCs have been conducting a PIT unsheltered count during even number years.

Outdated PIT Unsheltered Count Data Should Not be Used for Statewide Legislative, Funding, Planning, and Policies to Solve Homelessness if Possible
When a CoC does not conduct a PIT unsheltered count during even number years, HUD takes the PIT unsheltered count from the previous odd number year and adds it to the PIT sheltered count number for the following even number year. HUD requires PIT sheltered counts every year. For example, CoCs that did not conduct a PIT unsheltered count in 2020 had their 2019 PIT unsheltered count added to their 2020 PIT sheltered count by HUD who will soon publicly post this combination as their total 2020 PIT count.
Thus, if a CoC does not conduct a PIT unsheltered count in 2022, the CoC’s 2019 PIT unsheltered count will be added to its 2022 PIT sheltered count and reported by HUD as its total 2022 PIT count if the current HUD practice continues. Within this scenario, the next time that an updated PIT unsheltered count will be added by HUD to a PIT sheltered count will be 2023, four years after the CoCs previous PIT unsheltered count in 2019.

Updated PIT Unsheltered Count Data Should Always be Used for Statewide Legislative, Funding, Planning, and Policies to Solve Homelessness When Possible
What is important to note is that PIT unsheltered count data includes unsheltered persons by household type and subpopulation data, which is key for legislative, funding, planning and policy purposes. Household type data includes the total number of families and subpopulation data includes the total number of chronically homeless persons, persons with HIV/AIDS, persons with serious mental illness, substance users, veterans, and youth ages 18 – 24.
If all of California’s CoCs conduct a PIT unsheltered count in 2022, assuming there are no longer any pandemic related reasons not do conduct one, we will not have to wait until 2023 to have updated 2019 PIT unsheltered data. We will not be left wondering next year how different the 2022 unsheltered population might be compared to 2019 in terms of total number, household type, and various subpopulations.
Past legislation that focused on solving homelessness has been influenced by PIT unsheltered count data concerning chronically homeless persons, families, persons with mental illness and substance use, veterans, and youth under age 18 and between the ages of 18 – 24.
The total numbers of unsheltered subpopulations and types of households have been used to shape the eligible activities, targeted subpopulations, and best, promising, and emerging practices promoted or required by the funding sources.
The total number of PIT unsheltered persons has been used to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars through funding sources to prevent and end homelessness established by legislation during the past few years. Using PIT unsheltered count data, thoughtful planning and policies were built into past Notice of Funding Availability (NOFAs) related to the allocated funds for the funding sources.

Next Steps
Updating local and statewide PIT unsheltered data should always be encouraged so that updated data can inform legislative, funding, planning, and policy proceedings when needed.

You are encouraged to comment about this post. Please click here to comment.
Visit Homeless and Housing Strategies for California,which includes other reports regarding homelessness and housing.
Learn more about the Hub for Urban Initiatives.

This article courtesy of HomelessStrategy.com


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