The number of people experiencing homelessness in Nevada County increased from 2017 to 2019, according to results from the point-in-time (PIT) count released by the Homeless Resource Council of the Sierras (HRCS). As the lead organization in the region's Continuum of Care for homelessness, HRCS is a nonprofit collaborative comprised of members representing nonprofit and government agencies from both Nevada and Placer counties that serve the community’s needs around homelessness.
A total of 410 homeless individuals were counted across Nevada County, from Grass Valley to Truckee. The PIT count surveyed both unsheltered and sheltered individuals and was conducted by volunteers, non-profit, and County staff on the night of January 24th. The last official Housing and Urban Development (HUD) count in 2017 found 371 individuals experiencing homelessness.
“The results from the count will help us to better understand the widespread nature of homelessness, identify trends, and help target critical funding and services to those most in need. This count is critical in our work toward ending homelessness in the region,” said Leslie Brewer, president of the Homeless Resource Council of the Sierras.
Of adults who responded to detailed survey questions, 34 percent were chronically homeless. Twenty-one percent reported having a serious mental illness that contributes to homelessness, and 16 percent had a substance use disorder. The 2019 count identified 35 veterans, as compared to 12 in 2017.
When asked how long they have lived in Nevada County and why they stay, 59 percent of the adults surveyed reported being from the area, or remain in the area to be close to family. 59 percent counted also identified that they have lived in Nevada County for five years or longer prior to becoming homeless. An additional 21 percent surveyed reported having lived in Nevada County for one to five years.
These numbers are slightly different from initial numbers released by Nevada County in February. The difference can be attributed to the HUD data verification process, a rigorous vetting of survey data to ensure compliance with the federal definition of chronic homelessness and other criteria and definitions for collected data.
Since 2011, PIT counts have been mandatory for communities who receive HUD funding for housing and other services but over the past year, the State has moved to using the PIT count number in determining allocations of funding for homelessness and housing programs. This trend does not appear to be changing any time soon, making an accurate count all that much more important to ensure continued funding to address the issue on the local level.
“The overall level of participation by community organizations in this year’s count was much higher than in previous years,” said Mike Dent, Director of Nevada County Child Support, Collections, Housing and Community Services. “We really stepped up street outreach and coordinated more with communities like North San Juan, Penn Valley and Truckee to ensure we reached as many people as possible.”