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By Breeana Greenberg and C. Jayden Smith

Orange County still needs volunteers to help with this year’s Point-in-Time Count—the biennial count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals. The county will conduct a count of sheltered individuals on Monday, Feb. 21, and of unsheltered individuals from Tuesday, Feb. 22, through Thursday, Feb. 24.

Field surveyors and team captains are needed, as well as volunteers to set up and clean up at deployment centers. Virtual training will take place on Thursday, Feb. 17, and Friday, Feb. 18.

Katrina Foley, the Orange County board supervisor for the 2nd District, which includes cities such as Costa Mesa, Los Alamitos, and Newport Beach, said the COVID-19 pandemic has limited their ability to find volunteers.

“Our office launched an initiative to recruit as many volunteers as possible, and we are still accepting volunteers,” Foley said. “The results of the Point-in-Time Count will help us better understand the scope of the number of unhoused people living on the streets and help us target funding to eliminate homelessness in Orange County.”

The Point-in-Time Count is usually conducted every odd-numbered year. However, a count is occurring in 2022 because the 2021 count was canceled amid the pandemic. The Point-in-Time Count provides government agencies and lawmakers with the necessary data to guide legislative policy, funding allocations and planning to address homelessness.

The last Point-in-Time Count to take place, in 2019, surveyed a total of 6,860 homeless individuals, with 763 counted in the county’s South Service Planning Area (SPA). Of those 763 individuals counted, 225 were sheltered and 538 were unsheltered.

Becks Heyhoe, executive director of Orange County United Way’s United to End Homelessness Initiative, explained that the Point-in-Time Count helps to inform communities of the needs of the homeless to be able to make decisions on funding allocation and required programs.

“The value of the Point-in-Time Count data is for the entire community to make informed, strategic decisions regarding how to best address homelessness in our community,” Heyhoe wrote in an email. “It shows us the need by population, where homelessness has increased and where it has decreased. It also provides insights into which strategies have been effective, and it illuminates gaps in the system that need to be filled.”

The county contracted with CityNet, Hub for Urban Initiatives, 2-1-1 Orange County and Covenant House to coordinate and facilitate the Point-in-Time Count.

Deployment center volunteers will provide traffic control, distribute T-shirts and mapping supplies and help deploy surveyors. Volunteers for setup shifts will help to arrange the deployment center and assist with greeting field surveyor volunteers.

Volunteers for the cleanup shifts will assist in welcoming back surveyor volunteers and help to clean up the deployment center.

The county is broken up into three regions or SPAs—north, central and south. Each SPA will be canvased twice by surveying teams of volunteers.

In the South SPA, surveying teams of three to four individuals including one team captain will be deployed from either the Aliso Viejo Public Library or the Laguna Niguel Public Library.

Surveyors canvassing Aliso Viejo, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Woods and Lake Forest will be deployed from the Aliso Viejo Public Library.

Surveyors canvassing Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano and unincorporated county territory will be deployed from the Laguna Niguel Public Library.

Visit everyonecountsoc.org to learn more about the event, register, and find additional ways to provide support.

Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at bgreenberg@picketfencemedia.com

C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.

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