On Wednesday, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) began conducting its annual count of homeless county residents.
The county invited media to meet at the Antioch Police Department where the county staff and police took State Senator Steve Glazer, Supervisor Diane Burgis, and members of the Antioch Police Department to two homeless locations in the city.
According to the County, residents who are experiencing homelessness will be surveyed at many locations across the county over the next two days. Data from this effort help government, service providers and community advocates develop effective responses to the challenges facing local people who are experiencing homelessness.
According to the 2018 data, the City of Antioch had the most homeless in the County with 350 followed by Richmond (270) and Concord (252).
In East Contra Costa, Pittsburg had 110 homeless followed by Bay Point (61), Oakley (49), Brentwood (35), Bethel Island (7) and Discovery Day (1). In total, the county had 2,234 persons experiencing homelessness with 1,537 being unsheltered and 697 in shelters.
On Wednesday, it was during a discussion between Victoria, a 33-year-old homeless woman, also a Deer Valley High School graduate, where she shared her story with Senator Glazer and Supervisor Burgis where she stated police and the city abated homeless in the area of Oakley Road and Viera on Tuesday–ahead of the count.
“There was a homeless community, yesterday they actually kicked out a whole bunch of them and a lot of them lost their camps up there,” said Victoria. “They got all cleared out, they camped and because they camped to long they had to get cleared out by Antioch PD and the city.”
In a follow up with Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks and Code Enforcement Manager Curt Michael, they confirmed the abatement occurred prior to the visit by the Senator and Supervisor.
In an email by Curt Michael, code Enforcement Manager
On Monday, Code Enforcement posted four encampments City property at the end of Viera Road, in response to resident complaints. Yesterday, the Abatement Team removed junk/rubbish left by the campers.
This notice and abatement occurred as part of standard procedure for addressing complaints regarding homeless encampments. I do not know how the Point In Time count is run and whether these folks were “counted” however, enforcement continues regardless of the time of year or upcoming “events”.
I will be going out again today to post encampments that have been reported and they will be abated tomorrow. Again, standard procedure.
Lavonna Martin, MPH, MPA Director, Health, Housing and Homeless Services, explained this was simply a coincidence of timing and that the County was notified by Antioch ahead of time about the abatement which was complaint driven.
She also added they were not concerned about missing any homeless being counted because they have CORE team members out in the community everyday working to provide services to homeless, especially those who have been given notice to vacate a property.
“When are notified of abatement, CORE teams head to the site to offer resources, any person who accepted a shelter bed, or other services such as food, will be counted over the next few days,” said Martin. “It is likely those who may be displaced are still in the immediate area and 80% of homeless individuals in the area re from Contra Costa, so they don’t move very far and our CORE teams are familiar with the areas they serve.”
Martin added that the county was also notified of the KMART abatement a few weeks ago and have processes in place to ensure homeless have an opportunity to receive services and assistance if needed or wanted.
According to Michael, the City began tracking the homeless abatement in July of 2018. For the final six month of 2018,, Code Enforcement responded to approximately 176 complaints of encampments on private and public property. For 2019, Code Enforcement has responded to approximately 26 complaints of encampments on private and public property.
The county says the purpose of the Point-in-Time Count (PIT) is to measure homelessness over the course of one night, every January. Although the PIT doesn’t tell us everything about our community’s needs, it does provide valuable information as to the scope of homelessness, particularly around the number of unsheltered people on the streets and the progress being made to end homelessness. It is also used by local agencies to help plan services and programs appropriately, address strengths and gaps, increase public awareness, and attract resources to help end homelessness.
Martin said that the results of the Point in Time count will be available in April.
For more information: https://cchealth.org/h3/coc/reports.php#simpleContained1?platform=hootsuite