By Mike Hazlip–
Volunteers gathered at the Citrus Heights City Hall on Wednesday for the 2024 Point-in-Time count, an effort to collect up-to-date information about individuals living on the streets.
Workers with Sacramento Steps Forward provided maps and bags of items for the volunteers to take into the area. Volunteers formed teams that each went into different areas of Sacramento County, including Citrus Heights.
Volunteers collect data such as the name and location of the individual as well as how long they have been homeless and other information. The survey was completely voluntary, organizers said.
Krisi Kuchlenz of Sacramento Steps Forward said the data collected by the count is used to direct funding and resources in the community. Almost 50 bags
“It’s crucial,” Kuchlenz said of the count. “It helps us identify where there’s gaps in the community that need help with funding, finding shelters, and housing. Its overall general awareness for the community and Sacramento County as a whole to understand where we need to provide more aid and more assistance.”
Citrus Heights spokeswoman Marisa Brown also highlighted the importance of the count in an email to The Sentinel, saying the data helps influence policy decisions.
“This count can help communities better understand homelessness and make decisions based on the data gathered,” Brown said. “This information can help inform funding, policy and programs that aim to solve homelessness in Sacramento.”
Homeless individuals that volunteers encounter are not obligated to answer any questions, and the information collected is not used to track individuals, according to a worker with Sacramento Steps Forward.
Although previous counts have drawn criticism from advocates who say homeless people are under-counted, organizers said the Point-in-Time count remains the best method currently available.
During a ride-along with volunteers conducting the count in the Rusch Park area, a Sentinel reporter on Wednesday night observed volunteers making contact with about four people who said they were homeless. Two of those agreed to take the survey.
Citrus Heights Homeless Assistance Resource Team Chair Irene Hronicek said the local Winter Sanctuary saw an increase in guests during the rainy weather, possibly accounting for lower numbers of people seen on the streets Wednesday night.
The Point-in-Time count is conducted biennially, and a 2022 report by The Sentinel shows 89 people were counted in Citrus Heights for that year. Advocate for the homeless, Alfred Sanchez, has previously said the county’s method of counting discourages people living in public areas from participating in the survey.
Training videos provided for volunteers acknowledge the difficulty with counting people experiencing homelessness who are often reluctant to give their name or any information. Individuals are still counted, even if they decline to take the survey, organizers said.
Former Chief of Staff for County Supervisor Sue Frost, Matt Hedges, previously told The Sentinel that although the raw data under-reports the true number, it serves as a gauge to track trends over time.
By Mike Hazlip--
Volunteers gathered at the Citrus Heights City Hall on Wednesday for the 2024 Point-in-Time count, an effort to...
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