The statistics from this year’s count of people experiencing homelessness in Clark County has been released, with the data showing a slight decrease compared to 2019.
The Council for the Homeless announced the results of its 2020 Point in Time Count conducted in January. A total of 916 people in Clark County were found experiencing homelessness, with about 56 percent of those being unsheltered — living outside in a tent, car, on streets or anywhere else people are not meant to sleep, the Council’s announcement explained.
January’s count showed a 4-percent decrease from 2019’s numbers, the Council announcement stated, though the proportion of unsheltered individuals was up 5 percent. Unsheltered differs from sheltered, a designation given to individuals staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing.
Almost a quarter of those counted were persons of color, “which affirms the overrepresentation people of color statistically have among the homeless population locally and across the nation,” the Council stated in the announcement.
Of those counted, 197 were identified as being “chronically homeless” which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines as individuals with a disability and having experienced homelessness for a total of a year in a three-year period. The Council announcement stated that homelessness could be due to the individual’s disability, or that the experience led to the disability appearing or becoming worse.
“The trend of more people experiencing chronic homelessness on our streets means our community must invest further in targeted, intensive supports, including behavioral health treatment and permanent housing that facilitates people successfully moving off the streets and improve their quality of life,” Council for the Homeless Executive Director Kate Budd said in the announcement.
The Point in Time Count is a requirement from the Washington State Department of Commerce that has communities spend a day in January surveying individuals experiencing homelessness. On Jan. 30, more than 60 local agency staff, outreach workers, elected officials and other volunteers helped the Council conduct the street count, which alongside information from shelter and transitional housing providers was compiled for the official count, the Council explained.
The Council announcement noted that the process was generally considered an undercount of the actual number of individuals experiencing homelessness, but using the same methodology used annually allowed for communities to track trends in their communities.
Clark County’s count happened on the same day of Project Homeless Connect, an annual resource event hosted at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Vancouver that brings together nonprofit and government agencies that help those experiencing homelessness. This year Project Homeless Connect also featured a veterinary clinic at the Share Day Center, which the Council announcement stated saw 26 dogs and 12 cats while owners were surveyed.
The Council will be hosting an online community forum to discuss the results of the count at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 3. Representatives from the Council, Share, Community Services Northwest/SeaMar, and SafePark/GoConnect will discuss this year’s count results, and other online participants will be able to ask questions through a chat feature through the client. To register for the forum, go to attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2059261441209563406.