Orange County’s 2022 Point in Time Count of the Homeless report released yesterday shows a significant reduction in the number of homeless individuals living within the City of Laguna Beach since 2019. The report shows the number of unsheltered homeless living in the City of Laguna Beach has dropped by 60% from 2019 to 2022 (71 to 28 persons), and that Orange County as a whole saw a 16.65% reduction in the number of people experiencing homelessness since 2019.
“Reducing homelessness in our community is a priority and these numbers demonstrate that hard work and collaborative efforts of our Police Department and our homeless shelter operator, Friendship Shelter, have made a difference,” said Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf. “While we still have significant work to be done, this data is encouraging that we are making strides in the right direction.”
Every two years, jurisdictions across the nation participate in the Point in Time Count of the Homeless (PIT Count). The PIT Count is federally mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to count and survey the homeless population in cities and counties throughout the nation. The County of Orange and Orange County CoC conducted the sheltered count the night of Monday, February 21, 2022. Emergency Shelters and Transitional Housing Programs collected participant-level demographic information from individuals and families staying the night in each program. The 2022 Unsheltered Count process took place over three days – Tuesday, February 22 through Thursday, February 24 – to ensure the 800 square mile Orange County jurisdiction was canvassed effectively.
“I’d like to thank our Police Department for working hard over the last two years to get homeless off the streets of Laguna Beach by connecting them to services and make our City safer,” said Laguna Beach City Councilmember Peter Blake. “No single public entity can solve the issues associated with homelessness, especially at the local level. It will be a collective effort between both the County of Orange and all Orange County cities that will end homelessness in our communities.”
The Laguna Beach Police Department was one of the first in Orange County to designate a Community Outreach Officer to focus almost exclusively on homeless-related issues and outreach efforts. There are now two Community Outreach Officers who work closely with public and nonprofit social service organizations, law enforcement agencies, and the criminal justice system to connect individuals with much needed services such as mental health and substance abuse services. Additionally, the Laguna Beach Police Department has also implemented “Project Homecoming” through which more than 110 formerly homeless individuals have been reconnected with their families and loved ones all around the country.
“We have listened to our community and share a commitment to ending homelessness on the streets of Laguna Beach,” said Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert. “Over the last two years, our Community Outreach Officers have worked alongside our Patrol Officers to put extra effort and resources toward achieving this goal. We are now seeing the results of this commitment and I am extremely proud of our team and want to thank our community for their partnership in these efforts.”