A recently-released 2018 census of the homeless population in North Orange County reveals a startling 1,837 people, with 80% of them (1,474 people) unsheltered—a higher unsheltered percentage than Los Angeles County. This represents a 60 percent increase since the last count done in 2017.
The Census was organized by local nonprofit CityNet and funded by the North Orange County Public Safety Task force, a taxpayer-funded group created by the state legislature in 2017.
Although the 2018 census was made possible by public funds, its results were not released to the public until journalists at KPCC got the report through a public records request.
The cities included in the census were Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Orange, Placentia, Stanton, Villa Park and Yorba Linda.
The fact that the census was not released to the public (who paid for it) raises questions, especially as the county of Orange is currently involved in a major federal lawsuit about the lack of shelter beds, and an accurate number is important to determine how many shelter beds are necessary.
The census included a survey which determined important data about North Orange County’s homeless population. Here are some of the report’s key findings:
The total count was 1,837 (1,474 unsheltered, 233 adult sheltered, 130 family sheltered). 123 were children reported.
According to KPCC, this shows a startling increase since the last estimate done in 2017, with the largest homeless populations being in Anaheim and Fullerton.
Here’s a breakdown of the homeless population by city. Notice Fullerton has a total of 352 homeless people, with 233 unsheltered.
Some of the common barriers to securing housing among the region’s homeless population include: 40% have a mental health concern (a rate more than double that of the U.S. population), 45% have a permanent disability (also, a rate more than double that of the U.S. population), and 40% struggle with addiction.
The typical unsheltered or adult-sheltered homeless individual in North Orange County is a man aged 40-59 who identifies as “White” (71.6% of the population).
By contrast, the typical family-sheltered adult is a woman aged 20 to 39 who identifies ethnically as “Hispanic/Latino” (70.3%).
The report also showed a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans among the homeless population (9%), although African Americans make up only 2.3% of the county’s population.
54% of women surveyed have survived domestic violence (a rate much higher than the general U.S. women’s population).
54% of all respondents have been homeless for 3 years or more.
Veterans are represented among the region’s homeless population at more than two times the rate of their housed counterparts (9%).
63% of those surveyed receive no income. Of those with income, 78% make $1,000 per month or less.
1 in 4 respondents (25%) were previously staying in the Flood Control Channel (the Santa Ana Riverbed).
Clearly, there is great need among our region’s homeless population. On the positive side, local leaders have plans for shelters in Buena Park and Placentia, with 100 beds each. There are also plans for a permanent, 600-bed shelter in Anaheim in 2021.
Also, a new Point-In-Time homeless count of all of Orange County was conducted in January 2019 but the data isn’t expected to be released until April. Hopefully, we will not have to wait a year, as was the case with the 2018 census.
To read the full report, as well as the excellent original reporting by Jill Replogle of KPCC, click HERE.