Orange County begins first homeless count since COVID-19 pandemic

Officials and volunteers in Orange County will take to the streets this week to try and get an accurate count of the county's homeless population.

The point in time count is an attempt to track the status of the homelessness crisis and is required every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for some grants and funding. This count was originally scheduled for 2021, but has been delayed twice, both due to the COVID-19 pandemic. First in January 2021, then yet again in January of this year, as the COVID-19 omicron variant surged throughout Sothern California.

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As of the last official count in 2019, nearly 7,000 people in Orange County were experiencing homelessness. This week's count will be the first since the pandemic began, and OC officials say they expect up to a 10% change in those numbers this time around. 

According to HUD statistics released earlier this month, nationally more than 326,000 people experienced homelessness in one night in 2021. The number of those in shelters experiencing "chronic homelessness" went up 20% between 2020 and 2021. HUD's latest numbers only account for people in shelters, because of limitations from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Orange County count begins in homeless shelters Monday. The unsheltered count is expected to continue from Tuesday through Thursday. Los Angeles County's homeless count also begins this week. 

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