CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- The count for the number of those who are unhoused is on in Contra Costa County.
"This is a really important count because this count really drives a lot of the significant funding that comes in to serve this population," said Anna Roth, the CEO for Contra Costa Health.
On Wednesday, 200 volunteers went out to count the number of homeless and unhoused living in the county. Called the 'point-in-time' count, this one-day headcount is the figure that counties across the U.S. will use to secure local, state and federal funding, such as from the Department of Housing and Urban Development -- or HUD.
"You name it, HUD has one grant or another that supports us. And we have about $20 million that we get in HUD funding. And again, that is all based on this number," said Christy Saxton, director of Health, Housing and Homeless Services.
Those millions of dollars are not just to help those living on the streets. It is also used to operate a wide range of services, such as homeless shelters.
"I have my own space. I can go out in the morning, whatever, find a job, and come back," said "Danny," who has been living at one of the county shelters for the past seven months.
"Right now in Contra Costa County, we have about a 2% vacancy rate in all of our housing. That's affordable or above market rate. That just shows you, we need more housing. And days like this will help us bring those dollars in," Saxton said.
According to HUD data from the past 15 years, Contra Costa County has seen an overall decline in the number of homeless: 4,062 in 2008; 3,093 in 2022; 2,372 in 2023.
But Saxton says these one-day figures are often an "undercount" of the total number of people they serve annually.
"Last year, we touched over 10,000 people. So, that's a far cry larger than 3,000 that you count one day in a year," she said.
The county says a more accurate count also helps them with future planning. The final count is due to HUD in April.
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