Stanislaus homeless count organizers seek delay as omicron variant spreads

Patty Guerra/
·2 min read

The organizers of the annual count of homeless people throughout Stanislaus County want to delay this year’s tally by about a month because of the omicron coronavirus variant.

Stanislaus Community System of Care members voted at a Thursday meeting to seek permission from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to move what is called the point-in-time count from Jan. 26-27 to Feb. 23-24.

HUD requires local communities to conduct these counts as part of receiving HUD funding to address homelessness.

The system of care’s members include local governments, homeless service providers and others. The Thursday vote was based on a recommendation from county public health.

“This is due to concerns about the COVID-19 surge’s impact on volunteer availability, shelter staffing challenges and community partners’ safety,” said Dan Rosas, a county spokesman, in a Friday email. “We also want to ensure the count completeness and accuracy.”

Other communities in California are seeking to postpone their counts because of the pandemic, including San Francisco and Alameda counties and Los Angeles.

The counts rely on volunteers, and organizers of this year’s count hope to have as many as 250. Besides counting people who are homeless, volunteers gather such data as how long people have been homeless, the reasons for their homelessness, their ages and the obstacles they face.

That information helps service providers tailor the help they offer homeless people.

The counts are conducted over two days and consist of two parts — a count of people in shelters and a count of those who are not sheltered.

Last year’s count tallied a record 2,927 homeless men, women and children throughout Stanislaus County and its nine cities. The previous record was set in 2020 with 2,107 people.

These are called point-in-time counts because they are snapshots of the number of homeless people in a community at a given time. The counts are not definitive, and the results are dependent on such factors as the number of volunteers, how well a count is organized and even the weather.

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