Oceanside officials claim a mistake during the annual point-in-time count this year overinflated the city’s rise in street homeless.
Oceanside’s seen a spike in street homelessness – but city officials think the increase has been overstated.
Their argument calls into question the methodology behind the point-in-time count, an annual exercise cities must do to measure the size of their homeless population if they want to receive aid from the federal government. There’s little doubt that it’s flawed, but it’s the only consistent way to compare homelessness in different cities, or within one city over time.
But it’s only a snapshot and sometimes raises as many questions as it answers.
Hordes of volunteers go out on a single morning and count each homeless person they see on the streets and nestled in canyons or underpasses. They don’t conduct a census – collecting personal information or demographic data on each person. Initially, they just take a head count of people they encounter on the streets.
During this year’s annual homeless census on Jan. 29, volunteers in Oceanside counted 392 people they believed were living on the street. That was more than double the total reported for the previous year.