Volunteers and county personnel are fanning out across Riverside County today to count the homeless, taking with them “homelessness guides” who know the parks, underpasses, and other places frequented by transients. The count is a biennial requirement of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which bases funding for homeless assistance to local and state agencies on the results. Riverside counted approximately 3400 people living on the streets in 2009 and is working hard to be sure every indigent person is counted this year, so as not to lose any of that federal funding for their welfare programs. The counters will face a challenge, though, as some of the homeless may not want to be approached and questioned, even if it’s for their own good. Ronald Stewart, who is deputy director of the Department of Public Social Services and in charge of the effort, tells us what they expect to find on the streets of Riverside.
Ronald Stewart, Deputy Director, Riverside County Department of Public Social Services