The 2013 Homeless One-Day Count took place on Jan. 24 between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., according to the San Mateo County Human Services Agency, where hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the county and drove or walked through every census tract, taking note of the number of homeless individuals, families and encampments that were seen.
In Pacifica, the Pacifica Resource Center sent out 16 volunteer street enumerators, including three homeless guides, two former homeless people who were guides, Pacifica City Councilmember Karen Ervin, and the Director of Child Services for San Mateo County Human Services Agency, who lives in Pacifica.
These volunteers came back with some very preliminary information from their morning’s One-Day Count. They tallied:
• 8 homeless men, women and youth
• 27 cars with sleeping occupants
• 30 vans or RVS with sleeping occupants
• 11 encampments with sleeping occupants
According to the Pacifica Resource Center, this up nearly 30 percent from their 2011 count.
“In 2011, our preliminary numbers were 59 — 13 homeless men, women and youth outside and 17 cars, 12 vans or RVs, and 17 encampments with sleeping occupants – which translated to 95 when the county did its calculations for the cars, vans, RVs, and encampments,” said Anita Rees, executive director for the Pacifica Resource Center. “As you can see, we saw more folks in cars, vans, or RVs this year.”
The results of the count provide valuable data for policymakers and organizations that provide services and develop programs for homeless residents of San Mateo County, according to the Human Services Agency. Final data for the County will be released in May 2013.
As a result of the numbers and with shelter options so limited on the Coast, the Pacifica Resource Center is considering plans for a warming shelter in Pacifica.
“It would be a warming shelter of sorts, modeled loosely on Home & Hope, which would be hosted at local churches for the nights that temperatures are low or the weather is bad,” said Rees.
San Mateo County has an inclement weather program that funds extra shelter beds and in some cases motel stays when overnight temperatures of 38 degrees or lower with a probability of rain less than 50 percent or a forecast overnight low of 42 degrees or lower and a probability of rain of 50 percent or greater, explains Rees.
“The warming shelter would be activated locally based on more flexible guidelines and only when the County’s program is not activated,” she said.
The goal is to test the warming shelter idea this winter and have it up and running for the next inclement weather season, which runs Nov. 15 through April 15.
“Ultimately, we’d want the shelter program in San Mateo County to take over the warming shelter or work on other options for shelter on the Coast, since the only option now is to get into one of the shelters in South San Francisco or Redwood City,” said Rees.
The waiting list for the South San Francisco shelter is over 100 people long and the Redwood City shelter only takes folks on a first-come, first-served basis “so we have to check daily if someone wants to relocate to Redwood City,” said Rees.
Another option the Pacifica Resource Center is considering is “buying” a bed at the shelters so that when they have someone who needs to get in, they can refer them immediately.
Rees is currently searching for funding and community support now “so we can move on both of these solutions,” she said.
With shelter options limited, what do you think about a warming shelter on the Coast? Would you support a homeless shelter hosted at a local church?