2022 homeless count is in for Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties

From the Corvallis Gazette-Times:

More than 700 unhoused people live in Benton, Linn and Lincoln counties, according to the 2022 homeless count, the results of which were released Wednesday, May 25.

By comparison, that’s more than the population of Benton County’s Monroe,  living either in shelters, on the streets and out in the woods.

The true number is likely higher, according to a report from Community Services Consortium. In the tri-county area, the agency coordinates annual point-in-time counts, which are a federal requirement nationwide.

The regional count was led by Dina Eldridge, housing services manager for Community Services Consortium, who said in the report that conducting a head count of homeless people, particularly those who are not in a shelter, is an overwhelming task.

“No one truly believes that such counts are complete or comprehensive as there is no practical way to know or find every unhoused individual or family in a community,” Eldridge said in the report. “Especially in rural areas like most of Linn, Benton and Lincoln counties.”

Many of those sleeping in cars or tents in the woods don’t want to be found, Eldridge added, so the agency does its best to get a snapshot of the problem while understanding the reality is probably worse, but remains unknown.

An exact count isn’t possible because of the challenging nature and logistics of the endeavor, and this year’s count faced increased difficulty because the federally designated count period took place during the surge in COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant, according to the report.

Those challenges were amplified as shelters lowered their capacities to meet state health guidelines. And struggles building an outreach team in Lincoln County led to a lower count there than in the past, according to the report.

To read our PSA about the Point in Time Count results from this year, click here.

To read the full Gazette-Times article, click here.

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