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Orange County delays homeless count amid COVID-19 surge

Two volunteers speak with homeless men.
City Net volunteer and licensed vocational nurse Angie Munoz, left, and lead case manager Jennifer Munoz speak with homeless men in Costa Mesa during Orange County’s 2019 Point in Time count.
(Raul Roa / Times Community News)
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Orange County is postponing its biannual homeless count until the end of February in light of the COVID-19 surge, officials said.

“The county of Orange is among several Continuums of Care in Southern California that have been approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to reschedule the 2022 Point in Time to the last 10 days of February due to the impacts of COVID-19,” according to a statement issued by the county last week.

The sheltered count will begin the night of Feb. 21. The unsheltered count, for which volunteers hit the streets, will begin the morning of Feb. 22 and last through Feb. 24.

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Orange County is the latest jurisdiction in California to delay its count. Los Angeles County last week announced it would delay its annual homeless census by a month. Several parts of the San Francisco Bay Area have announced or are considering delaying their counts as well. San Diego did so this week.

This is the second time the pandemic has interrupted the homeless count. This year’s count was initially scheduled to begin Jan. 24. It had been canceled in 2021 because of COVID-19. The last count was conducted in 2019. It found nearly 7,000 people living in shelters or on the streets countywide.

L.A. voters want the government to focus on shelter for homeless people living in the streets, even if those efforts are short term, a poll has found.

Dec. 1, 2021

The Point in Time count is a federally required biennial census that collects demographic data and other information so agencies can update their practices and resources. It also serves as a comprehensive census showing O.C.’s homeless population that year and helps determine how much funding the county will receive to address homelessness issues.

City Net, a Long Beach-based nonprofit, is still looking for volunteers to help. The group will help train and lead them and other organizations to collect necessary information.

Those interested in signing up must show proof of being fully vaccinated, including the booster shot, or of a negative PCR test within 48 hours of their scheduled volunteer shift. Face masks are also required.

For more information and to sign up as a volunteer, visit the Everyone Counts website.

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