Fresno County officials announced the results from January’s homeless point-in-time count Wednesday, including a significant rise in unhoused individuals.
This year’s annual point-in-time count found 3,251 people experiencing homelessness throughout Fresno County. That’s about a 50 percent increase from 2019, when the number of people counted was 2,131. However, more people than usual were counted in shelters.
“Our sheltered numbers went up by about 500. And I think this is a direct result of beds that were added,” said Laura Moreno, chair of the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care. The FMCoC is the organization that implements the annual census of people experiencing homelessness in both counties.
Over the years the city and county of Fresno have brought in state and federal money to increase shelter beds and build permanent, supportive housing. Moreno noted that last year, 60 percent of those who took advantage of a housing program through FMCoC found permanent housing, meaning they left the program in a stable situation and did not re-enter homelessness.
Moreno acknowledged that more people are experiencing homelessness due to massive job loss and evictions since the start of the pandemic. “We have folks who are really on the edge right now,” said Moreno. “If they’re on the edge right now, and they’ve lost some of their income and they haven’t been able to pay their full [rent] in three or four months, that can be an insurmountable amount of money that they owe.”
Supervisor Nathan Magsig also weighed in: “Looking at homelessness, there are some people who are homeless because of mental health issues, some are homeless because of financial issues. So, as was mentioned earlier we need to meet the homeless right where they are.”
Housing and Urban Development requires a point-in-time count be conducted every other year. Moreno said the Fresno Madera Continuum of Care may opt out of a count in 2021 due to the Coronavirus.