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Roberta Arvizu, 62, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, right, becomes emotional after receiving a care package from San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran during the San Bernardino County’s 2023 Point-in-Time homeless count in downtown San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG) 
Roberta Arvizu, 62, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, right, becomes emotional after receiving a care package from San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran during the San Bernardino County’s 2023 Point-in-Time homeless count in downtown San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG) 
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Volunteers, local government workers and advocates for the homeless spread out across San Bernardino County Thursday morning, Jan. 26, taking part in the annual count of unsheltered residents in the region.

For the second time since the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the annual process in 2020 and 2021, the 2023 point-in-time count went looking for county residents without permanent places to live on Thursday. The results of the federally mandated count are used to help decide the amount of funding local communities receive to help combat homelessness.

San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran and San Bernardino County Supervisor Joe Baca Jr., were among those who visited homeless encampments in the city, setting out from San Manuel Stadium before dawn.

  • Roberta Arvizu, 62, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, left, talks...

    Roberta Arvizu, 62, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, left, talks to San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran and Teresa Aguila, of San Bernardino County Transitional Assistance Department, as they gather information during the San Bernardino County’s 2023 Point-in-Time homeless count in downtown San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • Roberta Arvizu, 62, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, right, becomes...

    Roberta Arvizu, 62, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, right, becomes emotional after receiving a care package from San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran during the San Bernardino County’s 2023 Point-in-Time homeless count in downtown San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG) 

  • Wanton Beckwith, 40, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, right, talks...

    Wanton Beckwith, 40, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, right, talks to San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran during the San Bernardino County’s 2023 Point-in-Time homeless count in downtown San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • Teresa Aguila, of San Bernardino County Transitional Assistance Department, center,...

    Teresa Aguila, of San Bernardino County Transitional Assistance Department, center, gathers information from Corneliu Ladu, 68, who is experiencing unsheltered homelessness, right, as San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran, left, looks on during the San Bernardino County’s 2023 Point-in-Time homeless count in downtown San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

  • San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran, left, and Teresa Aguila, of...

    San Bernardino Mayor Helen Tran, left, and Teresa Aguila, of San Bernardino County Transitional Assistance Department, look for a homeless encampment during the San Bernardino County’s 2023 Point-in-Time homeless count in downtown San Bernardino on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

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“The Point-in-Time Count has a direct impact on our city’s funding to address homelessness and volunteer turnout is critical to the count’s success,” Tran said in a news release issued by the city before Thursday’s count. The City Council will consider declaring a state of emergency on homelessness at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 1.

In February 2022, volunteers counted 3,333 homeless residents, a 6.6% jump of 208 people since the January 2020 count. The county found one less resident living on the streets in February 2022 compared to January 2020, and 209 more residents were in shelters or in housing provided to them.

Other findings from last year’s survey:

  • 79.2% of the county’s homeless residents were living in Barstow, Colton, Fontana, Ontario, Redlands, San Bernardino or Victorville.
  • 27% of homeless adults and children said they became homeless in the 12 months before the Feb. 24 count.
  • 47% surveyed said they first became homeless in the city of San Bernardino.
  • 22% of unsheltered adults said they’d been released from prison or jail during the previous 12 months (the same results emerged from the 2020 and 2019 counts).
  • 43.5% of unsheltered adults surveyed had been homeless for a year or more and had a condition such as mental illness, chronic health condition or a physical disability.

Results of Thursday’s survey are expected to be released later this year.

The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted on a new “homeless strategic action plan” in June 2022. The plan included measurable benchmarks to help identify ineffective efforts and provide hard evidence about what local efforts were accomplishing.

According to county spokesman David Wert, the new plan is already showing results

In 2022, 112 homeless residents were placed into permanent supportive housing, Wert wrote in an email. The plan’s goal was to get 100 people who are “high-utilizers” of local homeless services permanently off the streets, with 65% of them in stable housing and 35% of them connected to services that would provide safe support housing.

The plan also called for the county to work with local cities and other partners to increase the number of year-round permanent shelter beds by 200. According to Wert, the county expects 215 permanent beds to become available in 2023, mostly through Project Homekey (which converts hotel and motel rooms into housing for homeless people) and homeless program investment funds.

The county also committed to improving the overall functioning of the system that gets homeless residents in need of help into the system. A review of the Coordinated Entry System is being finalized, according to Wert, but the review already recommends streamlining and restructuring elements of the system, and updating local practices to match current federal standards.

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