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Doubts continue to surround Sacramento's recent homeless count

Sacramento's homeless count continues to draw skepticism
Sacramento's homeless count continues to draw skepticism 02:39

SACRAMENTO -- Days after the City of Sacramento announced a decrease in the number of people living on the streets, the results continue to be called into question by advocacy groups.

Last week, Sacramento leaders celebrated the city's latest point-in-time (PIT) count that showed a drop in the number of people living on the streets.

"This is a day to take stock of the progress and to commit to continuing to do what we have been doing and even elevate what we have been doing so that we can bring these numbers down even farther," Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told CBS Sacramento following the release of the numbers.

During the previous, Sacramento County had more homeless people than San Francisco. Now, they say the number has dropped 29% from 9,000 people to around 6,600. Additionally, there was a 41% drop in the amount of unsheltered homeless people and a 2% increase in sheltered homeless.

In the days since this announcement, the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness (SRCEH) reviewed the Sacramento Homeless Response Dashboard and crunched numbers from the Incident Management Team. They say, based on their interpretation of the numbers, there was an increase in enforcement in January compared to the months around it.

"We knew that policies of displacement and criminalization, such as Measure O and the Homeless Response Protocol, were drivers of the PIT count's low numbers this year, but we did not expect January to be such an outlier," stated Niki Jones, director of the SRCEH.

Jones told CBS13 that she has always questioned why the PIT count happens in January, as this is not the first year the date has coincided with winter weather.

"Theoretically, the numbers that we see in the PIT count are tied to our federal funding allocation," Jones said, "The only thing is, you know, if they want to be able to say, 'Look, our numbers are down,' and I don't want to accuse anyone of that, I just do think that it was a bad practice if they want to get a good number to do so many sweeps and really have an increase in sweeps during the month of January."

In response to concerns about enforcement numbers, a City of Sacramento spokesperson told CBS13 that the city's Incident Management Team did not "alter its work or methods in any way ahead of the Point-in-Time Count."

The spokesperson said that the January results may be bigger than December or February due to the number of weeks—five instead of four—counted in the city's data. They added that some of the data includes city-wide information like vehicles towed or tagged are not strictly unhoused individuals.

"When we got the results, we double-checked the numbers, triple-checked the numbers," said Pat Macht, spokesperson for Sacramento Steps Forward, the group behind the Point-in-Time Count.

The group has "confidence in the results" a spokesperson told CBS13, even consulting outside experts to review the data and the software used to record the surveys to ensure there were no discrepancies.

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