District 4, which Supervisor V. Manuel Perez represents, had the second highest number of unhoused at 1,161.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY — Despite ongoing efforts to reduce the number of homeless, Riverside County’s unhoused population increased 12% last year, according to a report that the Board of Supervisors will review today, Tuesday, May 9.

The county Department of Housing & Workforce Solutions is scheduled to present its findings from the 2023 Point-In-Time homeless survey, conducted at the end of January, as part of the board’s consent agenda.

Results show that the countywide homeless population is estimated to be 3,725, compared to 3,316 recorded during the 2022 count. The number of chronically homeless people who are unsheltered was 2,441, while the sheltered total was 1,284, according to the PIT report. The latter figure dropped 4% year-over-year, while the unsheltered number shot up 23%.

“Increases in homelessness can be attributed to multiple economic and social factors, such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, increasing rental costs and low vacancy rates, community and family breakdown and physical and mental health challenges,” according to the report. “Of the unsheltered individuals surveyed, 27% reported family disruption as the primary factor for their homelessness, lack of income fell second at 19%, and unemployment followed at 12%.”

The lack of affordable living space remains on in the forefront of most homeless assistance programs in the county and state.

“Affordable housing is a critical tool used to ensure rents remain affordable for individuals and families,” the county Department of Housing & Workforce Solutions stated. “According to the 2022 Riverside County Housing Need Report, renters in Riverside County need to earn $34.44 per hour — 2.3 times the state minimum wage — to afford the average monthly asking rent of $1,791.”

The PIT report states that demand for utilization of homeless assistance programs continues to mount. The county’s Continuum of Care Homeless Delivery System, which combines government resources with those of private and nonprofit entities, provided aid to 14,388 individuals between June 2022 and April 2023.

“This is a sharp increase of 22% from last fiscal year, resulting in 625 additional housing placements,” the PIT report stated.

The survey showed that supervisorial District 1 had the greatest number of homeless — 1,184 — and within that district, the city of Riverside counted more homeless than any other municipality in the county at 977.

District 4, which Supervisor V. Manuel Perez represents, had the second highest number homeless at 1,161, and the majority of those were unsheltered. The district encompasses the Coachella Valley and eastern desert. Indio had the largest homeless population there, tallying 427.

The count in January 2021 was severely limited because of the coronavirus public health lockdowns, and volunteers at that time mainly focused on visiting shelters to gauge the homeless population. The figures were not considered to be valid. Prior to then, in 2020, a total of 2,884 individuals were counted as homeless.

In the most recent homeless census, the county marshaled the biggest number of volunteers on record — over 1,000 — to conduct the count over a three-day period. Volunteers from faith-based groups, churches, civic affairs organizations, along with college students and county employees, were involved.

They engaged people living in cars, abandoned buildings, under bridges, in transient encampments, homeless shelters and other places throughout the county.

Data are used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine how to distribute federal homeless relief funding, and by policy makers in determining the scope of homelessness nationwide — including what’s working, and what’s not.

California accounted for 30% of the country’s homeless population in 2022, despite making up less than 12% of the total population, according to federal data released Monday. It was also home to 50% of the country’s unsheltered people, or those living in places such as streets, cars or parks.

Based on a biennial point-in-time tally of people sleeping in shelters, cars and on the street — which California cities and counties conducted earlier this year for the first time since 2019 due to pandemic postponements — the U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development estimated that more than 172,000 Californians experienced homelessness this year.

Image Sources

  • Homeless Point In Time Count: Riverside County Department of Social Services