By Zach Chouteau
The Contra Costa County Council on Homelessness has issued a new report indicating a significant decrease in the Richmond and West County homeless population.
The 2017 Point in Time Count, A Snapshot of Homelessness in Contra Costa County states that Richmond’s homeless population decreased from 356 in 2015 to 109 in 2017—a 70 percent reduction in two years.
The census was made on the evening of Jan. 25, 2017, and showed a total of 1,607 homeless persons in Contra Costa County. Of that total, 696 were living in shelters, and 911 were living in encampments, cars, parks or abandoned buildings. Veterans make up 9 percent of the total Contra Costa homeless population, with half of them living unsheltered at the time of the count.
The county also reported an apparent shift in where unsheltered people are locating. In 2016, East County experienced a 33-percent increase in the number of people sleeping outside, while west and central counties had a cumulative 45-percent decrease, according to the report. In this year’s count, Central County saw a significant increase, while West County continued to see a decrease.
“Some of these trends may reflect a shift in the homeless population and/or the effectiveness of efforts adopted at the local level to address homelessness,” the report concluded.
The Contra Costa Council on Homelessness is appointed by the Board of Supervisors and provides advice and input on the operations of homeless services, program operations, and program development efforts in the county.