This year’s count of the homeless in Stanislaus County tallied 1,661 people, including 243 children.
Volunteers conducted the count over two days in late January on behalf of the Stanislaus Housing & Support Services Collaborative, which consists of local governments, nonprofits and others that help the homeless. The collaborative is required to conduct the counts as part of applying for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding.
The results were released last week. Nearly three-quarters — or 1,221 people — of the homeless were in Modesto.
The count comes as the Modesto Gospel Mission and The Salvation Army’s Modesto Citadel both need more donations for the homeless and the others they serve. For instance, The Salvation Army’s 100-bed emergency shelter is operating at more than 100 percent capacity, with shelter workers setting up cots to handle the overflow.
Counts have been conducted in Stanislaus County since 2005 and have tallied 1,156 to 1,800 homeless people. The counts are a snapshot of homelessness and are not definitive.
For instance, the count has to follow HUD’s definition of homelessness. Volunteers found 68 people who were staying with family or friends and had been homeless in the past 12 months but did not meet the HUD definition and were not included, said Lynell Fuller, one of the count organizers
Fuller, who works for the Housing Authority of Stanislaus County, said all except for three of the 243 children volunteers counted were in shelters by themselves (for instance in a youth shelter) or in shelters or on the streets with at least one parent. She said the three exceptions were two 16-year-olds and a 17-year-old who were on their own and not in a shelter.
Volunteers — armed with surveys — interviewed as many of the homeless as they could. Some of the survey results:
▪ When asked about the issues they faced in getting help, the top three responses were lack of transportation (594 responses), not having identification, such as a Social Security card, (344 responses), and not knowing where to go for assistance (331 responses).
▪ When asked about why they become homeless, the top three responses were losing a job-not being able to find work (295 responses), alcohol-substance abuse (276 responses) and being asked to leave (276 responses).
▪ When asked about their past experiences, the top three responses were having been in jail-prison (581 responses), staying overnight in the hospital (272 responses) and being in a treatment center (256 responses).
There can be duplication among the responses. For instance, someone might cite not having transportation and identification as preventing that person from getting help.
Since the count took place in January, the Stanislaus Housing & Support Services Collaborative has merged with the Homeless Action Council. The new organization is called the Stanislaus Community System of Care.
Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316
Stanislaus County January homeless count
Rest of County 20
How to help
Salvation Army needs pillow cases, bedding for twin beds, towels, toothpaste, toothbrushes and deodorant for its emergency shelter at Ninth and D streets. Monetary donations also are needed for the shelter and The Army’s other programs. Donations can made at 625 I St., Modesto, 95354.
Modesto Gospel Mission needs nonperishable food, including beans, rice and canned goods; clothing for men, women and children; and monetary donations. Donations can be made at 1400 Yosemite Blvd., Modesto, 95354.