During the last 10 days of January, ASR helped to conduct homeless counts in 6 communities across California, including San Francisco, Monterey and San Benito, Santa Clara, San Luis Obispo, Sonoma, and Santa Cruz. In most counties, ASR worked with teams of volunteers and homeless individuals who acted as guides canvasing every street in the county, usually beginning at 6 am. ASR pioneered this method of combining a volunteer from the community with an individual currently experiencing homelessness, relying on their knowledge of homelessness to provide an accurate count. In exchange for their help, the homeless guides are paid for their work.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates counties perform a count of all homeless individuals in their boundaries during the last ten days of January. By car and on foot, the teams made note of the age, gender, and family status of any homeless individuals they saw and kept their eyes peeled for any signs of individuals living in cars, RVs or in abandoned buildings.
ASR also continued its pioneering youth counts, working with youth experiencing homelessness to tally this hard to identify population. ASR has been championed for our work with youth, and has been working closely with many national organizations and HUD identifying homeless youth, including individuals 18-25, as an area deserving more focus and study.
Over the next several weeks, the count will be supplemented by a survey of homeless individuals to provide an up-to-date picture of homelessness in each area. Homeless individuals are trained to conduct surveys with other homeless individuals. The surveys include information about health, mental health, work, primary reasons for homelessness, veteran status, family status, and children. These data allow service providers and county agencies to provide help where it is needed most.
In our ongoing efforts to shed light on the issues surrounding homelessness, the 2013 Homeless Census was an important step. Continuing to provide accurate knowledge of the circumstances surrounding an individual’s homelessness allows services providers to address program gaps and gives vital information about the strengths and weaknesses of the support systems in their respective counties. Data for the Homeless Census and Surveys will be available in late Spring 2013.
For more information, please contact Samantha Green at Samantha@appliedsurveyresearch.org