Fewer counted in Idyllwild this year
Homelessness is a problem through out the country and is growing in Southern California. Orange, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Kern counties all reported increased numbers of homeless between 2017 and 2018. San Diego County reported a slight decline, but its homeless population is nearly three times the number in Riverside County.
Last week, the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services released the results of its 2019 winter homeless survey. In the past year, the number of homeless people counted in the county increased by 21 percent, from 2,310 in January 2018 to 2,811 in January 2019.
The report’s author states that several reasons associated with the counting process and procedures would and did yield a higher result this year. For example, the time allocated for counting allowed for a wider area to be covered, targeting encampments, and even included more volunteers.
Nevertheless, the author stressed, “the actual number of homeless individuals is estimated to be higher than [Point-in-Time] Count results due to ongoing challenges of locating homeless individuals.”
The 2017 count was 2,406, or 96 individuals more than 2018. That trend was short-lived.
In its press release, the DPSS cautioned readers about the accuracy of the count: “Annual homeless counts provide a snapshot of homelessness. Due to the challenges in finding homeless people, however, actual numbers of homeless individuals may be higher.”
Most of the homeless live in unsheltered conditions. Of the nearly 2,800 homeless in the county, about 766 (slightly more than a quarter) live in some form of shelter.
Of those without shelter, 43 percent live on the streets, a quarter have found encampments and one out of six lives in a vehicle. Parks, abandoned buildings and under bridges provide some safety to another 10 percent.
Nearly 80 percent of the homeless are adults. Of the nearly 300 youth, about two-thirds are less than age 17. Of the 82 homeless families, 77 are in sheltered conditions.
Of the five county supervisorial districts, only District 5 (which includes Moreno Valley, Perris and Banning) had a decrease in the number of homeless individuals compared to 2018.
The homeless population in District 3, which includes the Hill communities, is 301, nearly 40 percent greater than the 2018 population of 214. Nearly 90 percent are adults and two-thirds are male. No children under age 17 were observed in this district.
About a third (112) are in Hemet and another 48 in San Jacinto. The homeless in the unincorporated areas increased from 37 in 2018 to 65 this year. Nine were identified in Idyllwild, but that is less than 15 counted in 2018.
Eliminating, solving or reducing the homeless population is a very difficult process because the cause for each individual or family can be so different. No single variable or characteristic defines people who have no home.
Some involve abuse substances, such as alcohol or drugs, some are victims of domestic violence, and some have mental health conditions, such as PTSD, HIV or AIDS.