On Wednesday Jan. 24, Lassen County partnered with local agencies to conduct a street count of unsheltered homeless people in Susanville and it’s surrounding areas.
Melody Brawley, director of Health and Social Services, said she and many in the community hear stories about the homeless in the community, but she really has no idea how many are out there.
“We don’t have any facts or data about it,” said Brawley.
Brawley said a shelter count was conducted on Tuesday, Jan. 23 and other shelter counts have been done in the past but not all homeless individuals utilize shelters.
“We were very excited to have such a great turn out,” said Brawley, “there are so many who were willing to come and help with this.”
Those participating in the count were volunteers from various different organizations and members of the community, many of them having had experience working with the homeless.
The organizations who helped participate included the city of Susanville, Lassen Aurora Network, Lassen Community College, Big Valley Family Resource Center, Lassen Family Services, Banner Health, Communities United for Children and Families and Lassen County Disaster Preparedness Coalition.
The city was broken up into three zones and thirteen teams were spread throughout them.
The three zones were split into four areas, each containing a staging zone, which had law enforcement and medical staff in case of an injury or emergency.
The county provided vehicles for the teams to drive to the central location for their assigned area.
The teams brought around surveys to be filled out. They asked a variety of questions that Brawley said would give the county a better idea of how best to serve and help these individuals.
The survey included 45 questions, including, “Where did you sleep last night?” or “How long have you been homeless?”
The volunteers brought socks and other necessities as an incentive for individuals to take the survey.
Brawley said a lot of homeless individuals experience the mindset she referred to as “Tyranny of the Moment.”
“They don’t think about next week,” said Brawley.
She said they have to worry about where their next meal will come from or what time lunch will be served at Crossroads Ministries or where they will sleep that night.
“It’s a big undertaking to try and get this figured out,” said Brawley.
Brawley said a lot of homeless individuals need medication. She said it can be hard to have medication while homeless as it can get lost or stolen.
She said many just assume the homeless here are transients, but if they are still here in January, they obviously have ties to the community.
“We can’t propose any solutions until we have the data to define the problem,” said Brawley.
Brawley said she hopes to see the results from the survey at the end of February or early March.