San Luis Obispo County has released the results of its Homeless Point in Time Count conducted earlier this year.
The count took place during a 24-hour period on February 23, 2022.
The numbers released Tuesday show a slight decrease in the homeless population, but county officials say COVID-19 restrictions may have prevented an accurate count.
The survey found 1,448 people experiencing homelessness throughout San Luis Obispo County, down 2% from the last count in 2019. There was no count in 2021 due to COVID-19.
County officials say COVID-related protocols created obstacles for Point in Time Count volunteers. For example, in past years, people who were previously or current homeless were paired with volunteers to act as guides to help identify areas where the homeless may be located; however, they could not be used this year. Plus, there were fewer volunteers and reduced capacity at shelters due to coronavirus outbreaks.
The latest survey also found that 80% of those counted were unsheltered and living in places not intended for human habitation; 26% were sleeping in a vehicle.
More than 90% of those counted were already San Luis Obispo County residents when they became homeless; 30% were families.
The goal of the Point in Time Count is to get a snapshot of the county's homeless population to augment annual data collected by the county’s Homeless Management Information System. It's required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at least every two years.