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Butte County COC's 2022 "Point In Time" count of homeless folks released


The Butte County Continuum of Care (COC), an organization within the government of the County of Butte to coordinate homelessness funding in the county, has released the results of the 2022 "Point in Time" count, aka the "PIT" count. This survey is a federally mandated bi-annual count of homeless folks in every county in the country. This survey, though mandated, is not provided for with any funding from the federal government, so it is traditionally conducted with volunteers in most counties in the US. The Butte County PIT count was conducted earlier this year on January 26th with teams of volunteers dispersed throughout the county to designated locations thought to have the highest numbers of homeless folks.


Housing Tools, the consulting agency hired by the county to prepare the report, presented an overview of the results at the Butte County COC meeting this past Monday. Below is a graph from page 11 from the report showing the compiled totals by city and with a history from past years. The number counted in Chico is slightly higher than in 2019, while the count for Oroville is several hundred fewer people. This may be due to Camp Fire survivors getting rehoused or moving out of the area.


The Housing Tools staff at the COC meeting discussed several factors that likely led to an under-count. PIT counts are nearly always thought to represent an under-count of the true numbers of homeless folks due to difficulties in gathering, training, and coordinating enough volunteers, finding the locations where folks are staying, and finding the folks at the time the survey-takers happen to be there. Those factors were all present this year, but COVID and community fatigue and burnout appear to added to the problem, with only about half of the registered volunteers taking part in the count, which meant far fewer teams being able to go out to the locations than was originally planned. Also all of the training was remote and online, leading to some sense that volunteers were not as knowledgeable or prepared as in years past. Some volunteers noted that the survey was very long and some of the questions were thought to be intrusive by some respondents, leading some people to not answer all of the questions.

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