This article was contributed by Nicole Sakihara, program manager with the Coalition of Homeless Services Providers.
This is typically the time of year when the Coalition of Homeless Services Providers (CHSP), the Continuum of Care Lead Agency, works with the community to conduct the biennial Point-in-Time (PIT) Count of people experiencing homelessness in Monterey and San Benito counties. The PIT Count helps to measure the prevalence of homelessness in our region and collect information on the needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Leadership Council, which serves as the Continuum of Care (CoC) governing board, has decided not to conduct the 2021 PIT Count of unsheltered persons. The region’s Continuum of Care applied for and was granted an exception by the Department of Housing and Urban Development this week.
Given the size of both Monterey and San Benito counties, the PIT Count usually requires 200+ volunteers. Coupled with the state of the pandemic, uncertainty of stay-at-home orders, and the need for close interaction with individuals who are being surveyed, the Leadership Council’s decision was rooted in concern for the health and safety of the individuals experiencing homelessness, volunteers and CHSP staff.
The Monterey/San Benito CoC has joined many California regions in requesting an exception to some or all of the components of the count. Other regions include: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno/Madera, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, Alameda, and Napa, among others.
“The Point-In-Time Count of our homeless residents in Monterey and San Benito counties is a critically important process. But this pandemic is at its worst point and we appreciate the flexibility to delay our count until next year for the safety of our staff, volunteers and the community experiencing homelessness. We look forward to completing this critical work when it can be done more safely,” said Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo, who co-chairs the Lead Me Home Leadership Council.
For more information regarding the biennial PIT Count or the Coalition of Homeless Services Providers, please visit CHSP.org or email info@CHSP.org.