Empowered By Orange County United Way

What the 2019 Point In Time Count Reveals about Chronic Homelessness in Orange County

Data from the 2019 Point In Time (PIT) count was collected during the month of January 2019. The results of this count were published by the County of Orange in a report on April 26, 2019. This PIT count offers a comprehensive analysis of homelessness in Orange County by providing an accurate count of how many people experiencing homelessness are living unsheltered and sheltered in Orange County. 

PIT Count Findings

According to the 2019 report, there are currently 6,860 people without a home in Orange County. 3,961 of those are unsheltered – meaning they are living on the street, or in their cars, etc. From the total number of individuals documented, the count recorded 1,932 people as chronically homeless (roughly 52%), with the vast majority of these individuals unsheltered and are living on our streets. 

Costs of Chronic Homelessness in Orange County

In 2017, a ground-breaking study on the costs of homelessness in Orange County was published by UC Irvine, Orange County United Way, and Jamboree. This study, published in June 2017, revealed that the majority of financial resources were being spent on the chronically homeless population, the heaviest users of healthcare and medical services. The average annual cost per chronically homeless person living on our streets, according to this study, was approximately $100,759. 

But the Cost Study also showed that these costs could be reduced by half if chronically homeless individuals were placed in permanent supportive housing (PSH). In PSH, chronically homeless individuals are provided stable homes where they can receive the critical supportive care services that are needed. Their rent is covered in large part by government housing vouchers, administered by local housing authorities. But in a community like Orange County, where land for housing is scarce and costs are high, even those with vouchers have difficulty finding a place to live. What’s more, potential locations for new permanent supportive housing developments will take time to be approved and built.

Solution: Welcome Home OC

This is why United to End Homelessness launched Welcome Home OC. This program provides immediate solutions for chronically homeless individuals by engaging owners of existing rental properties who may be interested in opening one or more of their units to formerly homeless individuals or families.

In partnership with the Orange County Housing Authority, the County of Orange, the Apartment Association of Orange County and our service provider partners, Welcome Home OC is designed to as a win-win for homeless individuals and property owners. Formerly homeless tenants with rental assistance vouchers benefit from having a roof over their heads while receiving supportive care services and case management. Participating property owners receive financial incentives and offsets for costs related to leasing and application expenses, holding fees,  security deposits etc.as well as the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping make a positive impact on the community and the lives of those most at risk.

But it’s not just a win for homeless individuals and property owners. 

From the 2017 Orange County cost study on homelessness, we know that when chronically homeless individuals are housed, their health improves, resulting in fewer healthcare-related publicly-funded services and costs. As a matter of fact, PSH results in a 78 percent reduction in ambulance rides and a 43 percent reduction in ER visits. 

These are savings from which we all benefit by placing the most vulnerable among us in permanent supportive housing. To find out more about how to support this important program click here.