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Alameda County Seeks Federal Approval to Delay Homeless Population Count For One Year

By Flickr user Sharon Hahn Darlin / used under CC / resized and cropped

Because of COVID-19, Alameda County has asked the federal government to delay their homeless population count this year.

Every two years, counties across the U.S. have to carry out a big survey known as the Point-in-Time count. It’s a federally mandated count that seeks to find if the number of unhoused residents is rising, and by how much. The count determines how much federal assistance counties get for homeless services.

Alameda County’s Point-in-Time count was scheduled to take place again this month. There would usually be about 500 volunteers who fan out around Oakland, Berkeley and other cities on a single night, but count organizers worried about the risks of spreading COVID-19 in the process.

So Alameda is the latest to join at least 16 other counties in California that are asking the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, to delay the 2021 count. HUD is expected to approve requests and has promised not to withhold funds if counties ask to forgo the count this year.

In 2019, 8,000 people were experiencing homelessness in Alameda County. Homeless advocates fear with the pandemic, that number has only gotten bigger.

Carla Esteves is a 2020-2021 Audio Academy Fellow with KALW. Her reporting interests include environmental justice, housing insecurity, climate change, business and economy.