The biennial “Point in Time Count” of the homeless, normally held in January of odd years in San Francisco, is likely to be canceled or postponed this year amid concerns about frontline censuses and other contract COVID threats -19.
The census, mandated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for all American cities, requires hundreds of volunteers and takes place over one night. This counts the total number of people not accommodated on the streets of SF as well as in emergency shelters and prisons. The last census in 2019 showed a staggering increase in the homeless population in SF and Oakland, as well as many other locations on the west coast. Experts believe that more people may be counted this year due to the effects of the pandemic.
The SF Department of Public Health has urged the city not to conduct the census project at this time as the number of COVID cases and hospitalizations has been rising for about a month and the city continues to be under a stay at home order and a 10 p.m. curfew Non-patient stands. essential activities. And as the Chronicle reports, the Local Homeless Coordinating Board, which organizes every biennial census, has requested an exemption from the HUD to cancel this year’s census.
It is unclear whether the exemption would mean counting next January, later this year, or not until the next biennial cycle in 2023.
Other cities across California, including Los Angeles and San Diego, are also requesting exemptions due to the pandemic, and Seattle has reportedly already received one.
“The census has many moving parts and requires a large number of frontline workers as well as volunteers,” Kelley Cutler, a member of the Homeless Coordinating Board, told The Chronicle. “It’s just too risky to be.” take during a wave. “
And the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing (HSH) adds that while a new set of numbers would be valuable from a political point of view, it could be difficult this year to find enough volunteers yourself to do an accurate count.
Critics of the homeless census have long claimed that it is a gross undercount, as it typically does not track those who are marginally hospitalized, fall on a friend’s floor or couch, or otherwise for the sake of them Census participants are not visible. The census process is usually a visual process, and volunteers don’t often knock on doors of occupied RVs or look into tents.
However, the count is a data set from apples to apples at a specific point in time that at least identifies trends. Total homelessness is a common feature in the media and in policy-making for the two years following its completion.
The 2019 census found 8,035 homeless people living within the SF city limits, an increase of 14% from 2017. A change in the number this year, in line with other cities and counties in the region, that excluded counting people in hospitals and prisons, meant the actual number may have been closer to 9,700.
As early as November, the HSH had the intention to conduct the census and had proposed to postpone it to the early hours of the morning (between 4 and 7 a.m.) in order to better record those who were definitely unprotected than those who were only on the census were street. The then co-ordinating body for homeless people voted for the count to be carried out as usual between 8 p.m. and midnight. Changing the hours could discourage volunteers and also result in a less accurate count as more people would be sleeping and less visible.
Homeless proponents say a census can still be achieved without wandering the streets on any given night. It uses numbers based on shelters, Safe Sleeping Villages, people seeking services in the city, and people temporarily staying in hotels. And this census could provide a more accurate picture of the immediate needs of the population.
Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images