Photo gallery: Homeless count, survey in San Bernardino


Volunteers scoured San Bernardino County early Thursday morning, counting and surveying homeless people in shelters, streets and parks as part of a requirement to receive funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The count included a 16-question survey of the homeless, said Kent Paxton, director of violence prevention for Mayor Pat Morris and vice chairman of a county inter-agency task force on homelessness.

The questions determine whether they're veterans, have physical or developmental disabilities or other specific problems they have and what aid they might be eligible for, Paxton said.

"We'll have the accuracy to know what we need, whether it's more Veterans Affairs help or something else," Paxton said.

More importantly, Paxton said, communities receive a continuum of care funding from HUD. He expects this year's numbers to entitle the city to as much as $2 million.

In San Bernardino, the mayor's office has sometimes been criticized as seeking funding that in turn attracts homeless people to the city, but Paxton said that's not the case with this HUD program.

"It's not about bringing more homeless, it's about helping the ones that are here," he said. "It's not just single males. The (San Bernardino City Unified) School District went from 2,500 to 3,500 homeless kids."

More than 120 volunteers worked in specific areas, handing out supplies like soap and socks to encourage participation, Police Lt. Paul Williams said as he stood in Central City Lutheran Mission, one of four "deployment centers" in the city for volunteers.

Among them was Greg Licata, who works for the Salvation Army and was on a four-person team checking the area from 5th Street to 9th Street and from E Street to Waterman Avenue.

"These aren't the people who come to the shelters or the food banks," Licata observed as he walked among makeshift tents in a field beside the San Bernardino City Cemetary on 9th Street, saying the people he met in that area were in worse straits than those he was used to seeing.

A report on the number of homeless and their statistical breakdown is due at the end of April. In 2012, 2,876 homeless people were counted countywide, compared to what participants say was likely a significant undercount of 1,736 the year before.


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