By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

Raw data from the Coos and Curry county Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless counts shows a 36 percent increase in homeless individuals and a 27 percent increase in homeless households across both counties, with homeless individuals totaling 1299 in Coos County and 137 in Curry County.

Oregon Coast Community Action (ORCCA), with support from various agencies and community volunteers, conducted the PIT count of persons experiencing homelessness in the counties, according to ORCCA Director of Program Development and Integration Maggie Sackrider.

The Curry County count was coordinated by ORCCA Curry Services Coordinator and Curry Homeless Coalition Director Beth Barker-Hidalgo.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires the annual count be done across the country in January and aims to count all unsheltered and sheltered individuals and families experiencing homelessness. It is used to assess needs and target resources for the homeless.

ORCCA anticipates the Curry numbers being a particularly low representation of the actual number of homeless, Sackrider said, because of the challenges in counting rural homeless individuals and families.

“We want to stress that these numbers will vary from the numbers HUD will publish,” she said.

These are raw numbers, they have not been scanned for duplication or completeness, and there are differing definitions of homelessness being analyzed, she said. For example, people self-identifying as homeless, such as those temporarily living with friends or family, would not be counted in HUD’s published data because HUD counts only those on the streets or in emergency shelters.

Sackrider further faulted the count’s accuracy because “the process is flawed;” agencies collect more accurate data over the course of a year while HUD administers the count on a one-time, hit-or-miss basis to ensure consistency.

Curry residents and those working with the homeless would expect funding to increase because of the increases in the count, but other factors affect funding, she said. For instance, if numbers are up everywhere or rise even more significantly in other areas, those areas might receive a larger share of available money.

Hidalgo said she too felt the numbers in Curry were under representing the homeless because of the difficulties contacting them in an area without shelters.

“The homeless here don’t have a gathering point,” she said.

Hidalgo hoped to met with local school districts this summer, as well, to plan ways to gain and share more complete data on homeless students.

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