*Correction - A previous version of this article noted that District 4 had the highest total. This was incorrect; District 1 has the most*
The 2023 Riverside County Homeless Point In Time Count has been released. The PIT is a federally mandated count of people experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness on a single night across the county.
The survey took place in January, with about 1,000 volunteers, varying from county staff to residents, asking unhoused individuals questions about their situation and offering resources to help.
Coachella Valley Rescue Mission's executive director Darla Burkett has seen conditions worsen firsthand.
"We're in a crisis situation right now with housing like I've never seen before," said Burkett. "It's frightening, you know, so it's a very sad, hard time in our community right now due to the economy due to the housing crisis, the fentanyl crisis."
The report is set to be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
This year's report shows there was a total of 3,725 homeless individuals counted during the PIT. There was a 23% increase in unsheltered individuals, and the number of sheltered individuals decreased.
The deputy director for the county's housing and workforce solutions, Greg Rodriguez, said it's partially because federal funding ended for Project Room Key, which checked people into hotels and helped them find permanent housing.
"That's why we saw such a drastic decrease in the unsheltered last year is because, again, we had a lot of those individuals in hotel rooms that we did full case management with as well and had a housing plan for them," said Rodriguez.
He said other reasons include worsening economic conditions and family displacement.
During the count, Palm Springs had an emergency overnight shelter that is no longer operating.
"Those individuals were, traditionally they were unsheltered and on the street, but they would have been included in that shelter count that night," said Rodriguez.
The county said the growth rate of overall homelessness over the recent years has been improving.
"Our growth rate over the last three to four years has, we only grew like by 3%. So it's a really good trend that we're seeing about the level. Hopefully, within a year or two, we'll see those numbers start to go down," said Rodriguez.
A summary being provided to the Board reads:
"It is as equally important to note that the count reflects a decrease in the rate at whichSUBMITTAL TO THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE
homelessness is growing in the county by 3%. In 2022, compared to the previous PIT Count,
Riverside County experienced an increase of 15% in overall homelessness, however, the
increase from 2023 was only 12% when compared to the previous PIT Count. The decreasing
growth rate in homelessness is a result of increased investments within our Homeless Services
Delivery System, a Continuum of Care comprised of housing and services, designed to meet
the specific needs of people who are homeless as they move to stable housing and self-sufficiency."
Rodriguez said the Point In Time Count is a snapshot of one day's work in the community.
"If you do see an increase, is not to discount the services that are being provided, or not to discount the efforts that not only the county is doing, but what we're doing in partnership with our cities," said Rodriguez.
According to the data, District 1, which covers Riverside, Perris, and Wildomar, reported the most homeless individuals with 1,184.
District 4, which covers the Coachella Valley and communities like Idyllwild and Mecca, came in close second with 1,161.
The report features a breakdown of the county's cities. Riverside and Indio accounted for the largest portion of individuals.
According to the data, 21% of the unsheltered people volunteers spoke to were experiencing homelessness for the first time.
Three specific groups saw increases in homelessness: Veterans (up 31%), Households with Children (Up 12%), and Seniors 62+ (Up 6%).
Meanwhile, transitions age youth aged 18-24 saw a 27% decrease since last year.
Additional data presented to the board on Tuesday shows some trends and recommendations following the count.
The data shows that the county's total number of permanent supportive housing beds increased by approximately 300 (or 40%) since 2019.
The data shows that nearly 500 permanent supportive housing units will be created during the next few years, representing an increase of more than 50%.
Resources in the Coachella Valley:
- SafeHouse of the Desert
Toll Free: (888) 343-4660
- Martha's Village and Kitchen
- Coachella Valley Rescue Mission
Emergency Shelter Annex: 760-851-2160