City Net, a contracted provider of services for people experiencing homelessness, conducted the count of unsheltered homeless people for the Orange County Continuum of Care’s 2022 Point in Time (PIT) count on February 23. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a federal agency that provides housing support, requires the PIT count to determine the local level of need for housing services.
The deployment site for the count in Fullerton, Buena Park, Cypress, La Habra, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Stanton, and West Anaheim was at the Fullerton Public Library. The PIT count of unsheltered people in the North Service Planning Area of Orange County includes Fullerton.
Trained teams of volunteers and City Net professionals, some accompanied by police for security, surveyed homeless people in the early morning hours and again at night. During the morning count, 517 surveys were completed representing families, young adults, seniors, veterans and other individuals experiencing homelessness. The final tallies and report of the week long count throughout the county will be available in May.In the morning, two Fullerton Observer reporters accompanied a team assigned to southwest Fullerton that included one volunteer named Carol, a City Net staffer named Amanda, and Fullerton Police Officer Kyle Bishop.
They drove through the parking lot at Taco Bell on Lemon and Commonwealth. No one was observed and the team moved on to Western Pacific Fullerton Clinic on Commonwealth where people were gathered inside to avoid the cold and wet weather. As people came outside onto the dark sidewalk, the director of the clinic identified the people who were homeless. A person sheltered at the Fullerton Recuperative and Navigation Center was willing to take the survey, but he was ineligible as he would have been counted Monday along with all others in the County who are homeless and sleeping in shelters.
There were a few there who qualified and were willing to participate and some who were not. The survey is voluntary. Those who declined the survey were still counted with minimal information such as their location and the surveyor’s estimate of their age, ethnicity, and gender. Those who completed the survey were offered a small zip-lock bag of snacks and a $5 gift card for a fast-food chain like McDonald’s or Del Taco. Almost all participants accepted the token.
The next stop on the list was the Fullerton Transportation Center (FTC), but the team made a quick detour to approach a person under the railroad tracks on Lemon. Upon asking, they learned that the gentleman was not homeless, but avoiding the rain while he waited with his bicycle to board the bus. Another man soon came by who said he was homeless and amenable to taking the survey.
As it became light outside, the team moved to the bus platform at Pomona and Santa Fe where there were a number of people to survey including one veteran. Carol filled in a special survey with him after completing the standard questionnaire. He was interested in getting access to veteran services, so Amanda gave him a pamphlet with contact information for local and County services for veterans and others.
Two people in the empty parking structure east of Pomona took the survey. The police officer approached each person first and then stood about 10 feet away to allow privacy while Carol and Amanda each worked through the survey on their phones. The officer spoke with a couple of people he knew by name who declined the survey but were counted. At the Amtrak depot there was another person who qualified but did not want to take the survey and was counted.
The team drove along Walnut Ave on the south side of the FTC where people living in motor homes used to park but there was no one to survey. Officer Bishop didn’t think there would be anyone there any longer.
The next stops were at Lemon Park and then the Jack-in-the Box and Best Buy parking lots on Orangethorpe between Harbor and Lemon. Only one person from those locations was surveyed. Others declined or did not qualify.
A young couple who was paying to stay at a motel in Anaheim could not be surveyed because they were technically housed, according to Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency for which the PIT count is required to determine the level of need for housing services. Amanda encouraged the couple to call City Net after a night in which they did not stay in a motel so they could qualify for help in the city of Anaheim where City Net provides services.
Officer Bishop led the caravan down Orangethorpe to the Del Taco at Raymond. Next door at the shuttered CM School Supply building were two people who each participated in the survey while banking customers used a Wells Fargo ATM nearby.
It was the end of Officer Bishop’s shift, so the team drove to the next stop without him. Along the way Amanda drove down a street where RVs had parked in the past, but none were found. Further east at the Discount Tire store there was no one to survey as a busy day of commerce had likely driven homeless people to other locations.
The team did not attempt the final location at Valencia and State College because they no longer had their police escort, but they did circle back to the Taco Bell where they found two young apparently homeless people with two bags of food from a church on E. Wilshire Ave.
The couple wanted to take the survey but because they were sleeping at the Bridges at Kraemer shelter, they would have already been counted with other sheltered people. They said they had a housing voucher too and were hoping to be placed in long-term housing soon. Amanda emphasized how important it was for them to maintain their status at the shelter until they were housed since “beds” are hard to get. The young lady agreed, “Yes, especially when it is so cold,” she said.
To learn more about the Point in Time Count visit www.everyonecountsoc.org.