High Desert Agencies Unite to Tackle Homelessness

San Bernardino County’s Point-in-Time Count is scheduled for January 28, 2016, and local agencies have begun strategizing ways to reach and survey the area’s homeless population. The count seeks to survey a snapshot of people and identify the need for homeless services. It provides data used by HUD and government agencies to making funding decisions. It is important that the count survey as many homeless as possible in order to provide accurate data. “The problem is, how do you find those who don’t want to be found?” said Darryl Evey, Executive Director of Family Assistance Program, the agency managing the count for the cities of Hesperia and Victorville. According to Evey, there is a large population of homeless single mothers and children who have yet to be reflected in survey data. “There is a belief by some homeless that this survey might put them at a risk of ‘being found out,’” stated Caroline Reyna, Program Director at Family Assistance Program. “That isn’t the case at all. The demographic information is submitted to the county, and will not result in referrals to police.” Last year the Victorville count identified 127 homeless, 100 of which were living in the riverbed that is now cleared out. Some were helped, but many are still homeless and have just moved to another area. If they can’t be counted, the data will reflect fewer homeless in the area which isn’t the case, and could result in funding being diverted elsewhere. A community collaboration is forming to reach the area’s homeless partnering with several agencies that may have a possible connections to the homeless. In a meeting held November 9, 2015, eleven agencies met to discuss how to approach the count. Volunteers are needed to assist in planning, making the actual count, and identifying locations where homeless are now. Through this joint effort, the data should reflect an accurate spectrum of the people in need. The public is invited to join in the next planning meeting to be held on January 28, 2016 at 1 pm, Family Assistance Program office, 15075 7th Street, Victorville.

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