Wednesday morning, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties held the 2022 Homeless Point in Time Count.
“So it's just a snapshot, a point in time, one day. So, you know, we can really do comparisons, as I said, year after year over year to see if homelessness is increasing or decreasing," said George Solis, program manager for the County of San Luis Obispo Department of Social Services.
Volunteers use an app to record initials, birth dates, and ages to count people experiencing homelessness in Santa Barbara County.
“The app that we use also uses GPS, so it drops a pin every time there's an observational survey or a full survey or vehicular survey to make sure that we don't really have any overlap,” explained Jett Black-Maertz, a housing program specialist senior at the County of Santa Barbara.
In San Luis Obispo County, they’re trying to maintain social distancing, so volunteers go out in teams and conduct their surveys from their cars or at a distance.
“They have their map, they have a phone-based app that they will use to collect data so they'll drive around their map, they'll look for the... look for tents, they'll look for people sleeping on a bench, people sleeping in cars and they'll just collect the data,” said Solis.
The state and federal governments use the numbers to track trends and help decide on how to allocate funding.
“It allows us to determine where they are, why they became homeless and how we can move funding and services to the more appropriate spots. These numbers are used by state funding sources as well as federal funding sources, and so it really dictates resources that are coming to us locally,” said Black-Maertz.
Locally, that funding goes to rental assistance programs, outreach efforts, case management and more.
Counties are supposed to conduct Homeless Point in Time counts every two years. However, in Santa Barbara County, they do it very year – except for in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.