Orange County homeless count may be misleading

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- The latest homeless count by Orange County shows an increase in homelessness this year from 2017. Some say a comparison between the two data sets is flawed because of differing methodologies, but they believe the data will be more accurate from this point forward.

The county, known as Point in Time, revealed homelessness was up by 43% in Orange County. Results showed that of the 6,860 homeless people, 58% are without shelter.

Orange County Public Information Manager Molly Nichelson said these results were a fresh start.

"This is is going to be our new baseline for the County of Orange to determine where we need to put our resources and our time," Nichelson said.

Volunteers hit all O.C. cities, this time getting more than a head count. They surveyed participants about their time without a home face-to-face.

"What kind of issues they deal with, if it's substance abuse issues, domestic violence issues, also demographics according to age. We have information about families which we've never had before," Nichelson said.

This new information came because the way it was collected changed.

"Yes, the methodology is different for this count," Nichelson said.

City of Anaheim spokesperson, Lauren Gold, said the county data wasn't consistent with numbers collected by the city of Anaheim, which has been working with the new collection method since 2018.

O.C. results showed Anaheim's homeless population going up from 2017.

"Our number of unsheltered homeless has actually gone down," Gold said.

The Anaheim spokesperson said the important thing was the county was on its way to getting a more precise look at homelessness.

"We think it's a positive step to have more accurate numbers and not only that, but really, information about what has made these people homeless, what could possibly help them get on that journey to recovery," Gold said.

Orange County is scheduled to release a more in-depth analysis of the results in June.
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