Overall homelessness up, but chronic homelessness down in new Sacramento count
Today we received some sobering but hopeful news about homelessness in our city and county.
The results from the latest count of Sacramento’s homeless population are in, and they show that while the crisis of homelessness continues, we are making progress in getting the most chronically homeless people off the street and into permanent housing.
Conducted over two nights in January with more than 900 volunteers, the 2019 Point in Time Count found 5,570 homeless people in Sacramento County. That figure is up 19 percent from 2017.
Any increase is disappointing, but the numbers also contain hopeful signs. The percentage of homeless people living outside who met the definition of being chronically homeless declined by 7 percent. This change shows that our strategy of targeting the most chronically homeless with services and shelter is beginning to work, and we need to take it to scale.
Sacramento County's homeless population
Under my mayorship, we have set a new direction and amassed almost $100 million going forward from state, local, federal and private sources to combat this crisis, which is not unique to Sacramento. Our city-county efforts have helped get 3,600 homeless people housed in 2018 alone.
In the coming months we will open hundreds of new shelter beds and target our outreach and enforcement to the city corridors where residents and business owners are directly experiencing the impact of so many people camping outdoors.
People will rightfully ask how chronic homelessness can be down while the overall homeless numbers are going up. The answer is that we have a housing crisis. Too many people are becoming homeless because of high housing prices. Our City Council decision two weeks ago to create a $100-million housing trust fund could not be more timely. We must follow through aggressively to put these resources to use and change these numbers.
Contrary to some common misconceptions, homeless people are not migrating to Sacramento in significant numbers, the report found. Ninety-three of those who are homeless here said they were originally from Sacramento or are long-term residents.
While 3,600 previously homeless individuals were housed in 2018, largely through county and city efforts, rising rents forced more people out of their homes. Addressing the lack of affordable housing was the number one issue mentioned by the people surveyed in the Point in Time Count.
The count was conducted by Sacramento State University and Sacramento Steps Forward, the non-profit responsible for managing U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding to address homelessness in Sacramento County. Jurisdictions are required to conduct counts every two years to determine their federal funding.
— Darrell Steinberg