More accurate homeless count coming soon for Southern Humboldt

The Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition completed the 2013 point-in-time count last week. As of deadline last Friday the final numbers are not yet available but Southern Humboldt project coordinator Dawn Watkins says that numbers have roughly tripled since the last count was conducted in 2011.

"My sense is that it's gone really, really well. We went way beyond our numbers from 2011. I don't know if it's an increase in population, or if it's that we focused really closely on the Garberville\Redway region."

Watkins estimates that roughly 120 homeless residents participated by responding to a survey that helps non-profits and public agencies gather data about the needs of the local homeless community. That data can be compared to previous counts as a way of identifying demographic shifts and other statistical trends in a vulnerable population that is otherwise difficult to monitor.

Watkins indicated that if there's been an increase in the county's homeless veteran population over the last two years, we're going to find out about it soon. We'll also get an update on age, gender, and education among homeless residents - and the rate of homeless residents who are reporting drug, alcohol, or mental health issues.

The 2011 count dealt with Humboldt County on the whole, and the document it produced does not differentiate between respondents from Garberville or Eureka. As a result, it's difficult to identify information specific to homeless residents of Southern Humboldt.

"There wasn't a whole lot about Southern Humboldt in that report," Watkins says.

She hopes that her focus on the communities around Garberville, Redway, and Fortuna will help establish a better understanding of what's happening here in SoHum. The data should be confirmed sometime this week, and we plan to have analysis available in the Feb. 12 issue.