BACKGROUND & PURPOSE.
The Pasadena Homeless Count measures the prevalence of homelessness by collecting information from people who are living in unsheltered locations and temporary shelters. People who are considered unsheltered include those sleeping outdoors, on the street, in parks, or vehicles, etc. People considered temporarily sheltered include those sleeping in emergency shelters, including hotels and motels paid for by a homeless services agency, or in transitional housing.
As the lead agency for the Pasadena Continuum of Care (CoC), the City of Pasadena is responsible for reporting the findings of the Homeless Count to HUD. Results from the Homeless Count are also included in the CoC’s annual funding application to HUD and serve as the main source of data used by State and Federal government entities to determine funding allocations and resources the city receives for homeless services.
Pasadena’s Homeless Count is typically conducted annually during the last ten days in January. This year's count was delayed by a month due to the surge in COVID-19 cases driven by the omicron variant. Over 160 volunteers canvassing the city after sunset on the evening of February 22 (from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m.) and before sunrise the following morning (from 6:00 to 8:00 a.m.) to survey and count the total number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness.
Professional outreach workers covered all parks and areas outside of predetermined volunteer zones, including known encampments. Surveys were also conducted throughout the day on February 23 at partner sites across the city to thoroughly capture all of our community members experiencing homelessness, including the libraries, The Salvation Army, The Women’s Room at Friends In Deed, Youth Moving On, and the Public Health Department’s GEM Link program at the Jackie Robinson Center.
Data for the sheltered count was collected for the evening of February 22 through the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). HMIS is a database used to confidentially collect client-level data for people experiencing homelessness served by providers in the CoC. The sheltered count includes people staying in emergency shelters, including hotels and motels paid for by a homeless services agency, and transitional housing programs.
In conjunction with the broader Homeless Count, Pasadena also conducted a supplemental count of unaccompanied youth experiencing homelessness between 18 and 24 years old. This dedicated count is part of a nationwide effort established and recommended by HUD to improve the understanding and scope of youth homelessness. Trained local youth service providers and youth peer navigators conducted the count between 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. on February 23 in specific areas where young people experiencing homelessness are known to congregate.
DEFINITION OF HOMELESSNESS.
Homelessness is defined in a number of different ways across federal agencies and institutions (i.e. U.S. Department of Education or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). The HUD definition of homelessness is used to determine who is included in the count to align with the HUD methodological requirements for Point-in-Time Count reporting.
HUD’s definition of homelessness includes individuals and families who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This means that they either:
Have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation;
Are living in a publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state, and local government programs); or
Are exiting an institution where (s)he has resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or a place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution.
In addition, HUD's definition of homelessness includes people fleeing or attempting to flee domestic violence who have no other residence and lack the resources or support networks to obtain other permanent housing.
This narrow definition does not include people who may be “doubled up” or “couch surfing” with other family or friends, people living in motels or hotels paid for with their own funds, or people who have been in institutions such as hospitals, jails, or rehabilitation facilities for more than 90 days. Therefore, the results yielded from this count may or may not coincide with other definitions and estimates of people experiencing homelessness on a local, state, and national level.
LIMITATIONS OF THE RESULTS.
The Point-in-Time Count provides a “snapshot in time” which quantifies the size of the population experiencing homelessness at a given point during the year. Though the Point-in-Time Count is particularly useful in tracking trends over time, supplemental data should be used to assess, understand, and address the needs of those without a safe and stable home. While the methodology employed for the count is the most comprehensive approach available, no methodology allows for a 100% accurate estimate of all people experiencing homelessness. Regardless of how successful outreach efforts are, an undercount of people experiencing homelessness is possible. This is especially true with hard-to-reach subpopulations such as unsheltered families and unaccompanied youth.
The results presented here are only one source of data among many that help the city understand the magnitude and characteristics of our unhoused population. The broader context of systemic factors that continue to push people into homelessness and impede their ability to successfully exit to permanent housing should be considered when interpreting these results.
The Point-in-Time Count does not calculate the number of all people who experience homelessness over the course of the year, which is greater than the number of those who experience homelessness at any given time. As such, results may not entirely represent fluctuations and compositional changes in the population over an entire year.
Annual data is collected through the existing Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) database and captures the movement of people in and out of homelessness over time. While this analysis offers context for understanding Homeless Count results and trends across time, any conclusions about the city’s efforts to address homelessness solely based on these results alone are limited.