County Presents Results of Homeless Survey


MORRO BAY ­— The 2019 San Luis Obispo County Homeless Point-In-Time Count was held between January 27 and February 28, 2019. This count occurs every two years in communities across the county and includes comprehensive counts of the local population experiencing homelessness. Point-In-Time Counts measure the prevalence of homelessness in each community and collect information on individuals and families residing in emergency shelters and transitional housing, as well as people sleeping on the streets or in cars, abandoned properties, or other places not meant for human habitation.

This count is the only source of nationwide data on sheltered and unsheltered homelessness and is required by HUD of all Continuum of Care receiving federal funding to provide housing and services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. San Luis Obispo worked in conjunction with Applied Survey Research to conduct the 2019 San Luis Obispo County Homeless Point-In-Time Survey.

Aspects that are studied include percentages of Primary Event or Condition that Led to Homelessness, First Episode of Homelessness, Barrier to Obtaining Permanent Housing, Self-Reported Health, Disabling Conditions, Services and Assistance, Reasons for Not Receiving Any Government Assistance, and Services Currently Accessing. Some of the results are: 30 percent lost jobs, 20 percent alcohol or drug use, 11 percent divorce or separation, 17 percent eviction. Twenty-seven percent (27 percent) are experiencing their first episode of homelessness. Sixty-six percent (66 percent) cannot afford rent and 35 percent have not enough income. Thirty-six (36 percent) suffer alcohol or drug use, 31 percent psychiatric or emotional conditions, 26 percent PTSD, 23 percent chronic health conditions, 21 percent physical disabilities and 41 percent reported having at least one disabling condition. Eighty-seven percent (87 percent) do receive benefits but 40 percent don’t want government assistance and 22 percent don’t think they are eligible. Fifty-three percent (53 percent) receive free meals and 43 percent use emergency shelters.

The report gives figures for things based on shelter status, gender, race, age, veterans and more. It also covers children in foster care and the duration of overall homelessness. In Morro Bay, the number of homeless people unsheltered is 92 with 2 sheltered and an overall number in the county of 1,172 unsheltered and 311 sheltered. Over one-third (34 percent) of the survey respondents reported currently living outdoors. The primary reason for many of the surveyed for being homeless is the loss of a job and most cannot afford the current rents in the county. It is important to note that the unemployment rate represents only those who are unemployed and actively seeking work. It does not represent all joblessness, nor does it address the types of available employment. The unemployment rate of the homeless is 88 percent an increase from 80 percent in 2015. Twenty-nine percent (29 percent) of respondents reported they were actively looking for work and 20 percent said they were not. While half, 50 percent indicated they were currently unable to work. Respondents when asked if they had spent a night in jail in the last 12 months replied and 37 percent
had done so. 

The U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines a chronically homeless person as someone who has experienced homelessness for a year or longer or who has had at least four episodes of homelessness totaling 12 months in the last three years and also has a disabling condition that prevents them from maintaining work or housing.

There were 67 families experiencing homelessness with 222 individuals involved in 2019. This represents an increase of 37 percent in the number of families experiencing homelessness since 2017. Homelessness among youth and young adults is difficult to identify because they are less likely to be found among the adult population experiencing homelessness and they prefer locations and times of day that make traditional efforts at gathering numbers more difficult. For 2019 the targeted youth count identified 174 youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. Youth and young adult respondents cited similar reasons for being homeless as adults. The most commonly reported reason was joblessness.

The 2019 Point-In-Time Count identified 1,483 persons experiencing homelessness in the county, an increase of 32 percent from the count of 2017. Nearly four out of five (79 percent) were unsheltered living in places not meant for human habitation. Over 27 percent of homeless stated they were experiencing this for the first time and the biggest obstacle to obtaining permanent housing were economic with affordability of rent at 66 percent and lack of a job or income at 35 percent and lack of money for moving costs at 21 percent. The survey also showed that 36 percent reported alcohol or drug use and 31 percent with emotional or psychiatric conditions and 26 percent with PTSD. The count showed 298 persons were chronically homeless and 144 were veterans with 222 families with children and 174 unaccompanied homeless children and transition-aged youth.

In conclusion, it is reported that counts for homelessness in San Luis Obispo County have increased from 2017 to 2019 by 31.8 percent.

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