Homelessness in Riverside County Sees Alarming 12% Increase
Riverside County is grappling with a significant surge in homelessness, as indicated by a recent survey showing a troubling 12% rise in the number of individuals living on the streets.
The surge encompasses diverse groups, including homeless veterans and families with children.
Urgent action is now being called for by county officials to address this escalating issue and provide assistance to the most vulnerable residents.
The growing homelessness crisis has become impossible to ignore for both residents of Riverside County and the surrounding areas.
San Bernardino County has also experienced a 26% increase in homelessness, while Riverside County’s rate of growth, although slightly declining, remains alarming.
Locals are deeply concerned about the situation and fear that the numbers will continue to rise without immediate intervention.
The latest point-in-time count revealed a 12% upsurge in homelessness compared to the previous year, encompassing both sheltered and unsheltered individuals.
Chris Oberg, the CEO of PATH of Life Ministries, a Riverside-based nonprofit dedicated to aiding homeless individuals, has witnessed the crisis firsthand.
The organization operates three different shelters, two of which are open year-round.
Oberg emphasizes that disrupted relationships, such as marriages or familial connections, contribute to homelessness, alongside economic hardships, evictions, inflation, and the lack of sufficient shelter beds in the county.
Presenting the findings of the latest point-in-time count to Riverside County’s Board of Supervisors, the Department of Housing and Workforce Solutions revealed a concerning 23% increase in unsheltered individuals.
Notably, the city of Riverside recorded the highest number of homeless individuals, with a total of 605 people.
Troublingly, specific populations experienced significant spikes in homelessness, with a 31% increase among veterans and a 12% increase among families with children.
However, the transitional age group saw a decrease of 27%, an area on which the county has recently focused its efforts.
The county acknowledges that addiction, substance abuse, and mental wellness issues are intertwined with the homelessness crisis.
Consequently, they anticipate that resolving this multifaceted problem will require years of dedicated work.
The Continuum of Care, responsible for overseeing homelessness services, aims to utilize the results of the point-in-time count to ensure the provision of appropriate services to those in need.
Efforts are underway to tackle the crisis head-on, with Supervisor Chuck Tellez of the 3rd District already implementing programs and collaborating with cities and developers to create more affordable housing options.
Several affordable housing units are expected to be built within the next six months.
However, the response from other supervisors in Riverside County is still pending.
As the homelessness situation continues to worsen, the community eagerly awaits a comprehensive and effective plan of action.
The rising numbers demand immediate solutions to alleviate the plight of Riverside County’s homeless population and provide them with the necessary support and resources.