SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – Orange County staff, along with dozens of volunteers, are fanning out across the county Wednesday and Thursday in order to tabulate the number of homeless men, women and children living in the streets.
The annual Point-in-Time count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Development in order for the county to receive federal funds to combat homelessness.
O.C. Supervisor Andrew Do explained to CBS2 Wednesday morning that this count is different than ones in years past due to the technology being used to get more accurate numbers.
“We are employing the latest technology… for each interview that we do this morning,” Doh said. “And by the end of the day, we will gather together and look at our data, to see if anything doesn’t gel or doesn’t make sense or doesn’t correlate with what we have found, to be in our experience, in the last two years.”
Volunteers are using their smart phones to count the homeless and then report it to a command center in Santa Ana in real-time.
The volunteers will also be asking the homeless a series of about 30 questions and recording the answers on their phones as well, according to Voice of OC. Those living in homeless shelters will also be counted, Voice of OC reports.
Los Angeles County is also conducting its annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless count this week. Its 2018 count saw the homeless population decline about 4 percent, to 52,765 people.
The homeless issue has grown into a major crisis for Orange County over the past few years as rents continue to skyrocket and the supply of available housing is unable to meet the demand.
Last month, a large tent city at a popular park in Anaheim was cleared out and the homeless living there were bussed to a shelter about five miles away.
Residents in cities including Silverado, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel and Costa Mesa have turned out in force to oppose plans to build emergency shelters in their communities.
In February, hundreds of homeless people were cleared from a two-mile stretch of the Santa Ana riverbed – from Santa Ana to Anaheim — after months of wrangling between homeless advocates and county and city officials. In April, dozens more homeless people were also cleared from the Santa Ana Civic Center.
During the controversial removal from the riverbed, the Orange County Catholic Worker group and several homeless people filed a federal lawsuit against the county and the cities of Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa, claiming that removing the homeless from the riverbed violated a broad range of constitutional protections.
In March, O.C. supervisors abandoned a controversial plan to erect large tents in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel to temporarily house the homeless. The supervisors were forced to abandon the plan after fervent demonstrations from residents and city officials, along with threats of lawsuits. A second proposal — to house the homeless in the state-owned and soon-to-be-shuttered Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa — was also met with strong opposition from residents.