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1,857 homeless counted in Stanislaus County
• Point in Time count was hampered by cold and COVID
Homeless outside of Del Taco
Ceres doesn’t have a large number of homeless people on the streets according to the February Point in Time count. This man was seen sleeping outside of Del Taco on Mitchell Road. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The Stanislaus Community System of Care (CSOC) has released its Point-In-Time (PIT) homeless count identifying 1,857 homeless persons in Stanislaus County as of Feb. 24.

While that number was down by 1,070 from last year’s figure of 2,927 – the 2021 count was a partial estimate – the new count is on par with the numbers the county was experiencing before the COVID pandemic hit in March 2020. It does not necessarily mean there are fewer homeless persons on the streets of Stanislaus County.

This year’s count was hampered by a number of factors.

“This year we faced some challenges with the count,” stated Jason Conway, chairman of the CSOC. “But the information we did receive will still help us develop important support services and housing for homeless individuals in our community.”

Because of concerns about the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the scheduled count was moved from January to February and about half of the volunteers assisted than initially registered in January. Fewer homeless people could be found outdoors due to temperatures dipping below 35 degrees the morning of the count on Feb. 24. Another factor complicating the count was that sweeps of homeless camps were conducted prior to the count and outreach and engagement teams were unable to locate them.

Each year, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires counties to count their homelessness persons. The data is critical to determine the scope of homelessness, define existing resources and identify any gaps in services in Stanislaus County. The data is then used to help determine how much funding will be provided to develop housing and services to assist people moving from homelessness to independent living.

The 2021 count was only a partial estimate since there was not a full count of unsheltered persons due to fewer volunteers because of COVID-19 concerns. So HUD approved the use of data from service providers who help the homeless.

The PIT count is an unduplicated count of unsheltered homelessness persons on a single night in January as well as those who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens.

The Feb. 24 count of sheltered homeless persons revealed 911 persons, an increase of 26 percent from 2021, in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and rapid re-housing.

The survey revealed that 77 percent of respondents reported they first became homeless in Stanislaus County. The vast majority of those who are homeless reported – 47 percent – reported they have a serious mental illness while half of those who cooperated in the survey noted they previously had been incarcerated.

Primary factors stated as the top reason for becoming homeless were: substance abuse, 30 percent; they were asked to leave, 18 percent; illness of one’s self or family, 15 percent; losing a job, 16 percent; abuse violence at home, 14 percent.

Thirty-three percent reported that lack of transportation was the main obstacle to accessing services and 11 percent who responded said they were homeless due to COVID-19.

The vast majority of homeless in Stanislaus County are non-Hispanics (1,226) while 631 reported they are Latino. Also, the vast majority of homeless persons in the county are in Modesto (1,433), compared to 211 in Turlock, 70 in Empire, 55 in Patterson, 26 in Oakdale, 18 in Riverbank, 15 in Ceres, 12 in Newman, 10 in Waterford and four in Keyes. The communities of Hughson, Crows Landing and Westley had only one count each of a homeless person.