Homeless count changes cause problems
Complicating the count were changes in the form this year that many of those assisting with the count did not fully understand. A significant change in the definition of homelessness used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also played a role, Means said.
In the past, HUD recognized those who were “couch surfing” or doubled up in housing as homeless. That’s no longer the case.
This year, the homeless count documented 321 households and a total of 540 people as homeless. Because of the change, though, it’s impossible to compare the new numbers with those of previous years.
Means said there were other challenges to the count as well.
Some homeless people who’ve participated in the past didn’t this year because they didn’t see that it was helping. Many said they were seeing services cut, not expanded, she said.
She said county personnel also experienced problems with completion of forms at shelters and schools.
Nonetheless, Means said, even at 540, the number of local homeless runs more than double the number of shelter beds available. The 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Yamhill County continues to address that issue, by developing C-WISH emergency shelters and conducting the Community Connect event scheduled for June.