The 2008 Homeless Count IS IN
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3,196 people are homeless in Sacramento on any given night according to a January 29, 2008 homeless count organized by the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance Homeless Programs. These numbers included a count of unsheltered homeless people, those in shelters (emergency shelters and transitional housing), Sacramento Mental Health Treatment Center, the main jail, Rio Consumnes Correctional Center and alcohol/drug treatment facilities.
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HUD only accepts the sheltered and unsheltered counts which came to 2,678. Of those individuals counted, 730 were in emergency shelters, 682 were in transitional housing and 1,266 were unsheltered. These compare to 2007 figures where there were 709 in emergency shelters, 738 in transitional shelters and 1,005 that were unsheltered. There has been an increase of 226 (9.2%) homeless people from the 2007 count. There has been a total increase of 261 (20.6%) unsheltered homeless people. The chronic homeless count decreased by 3.9% from last year.
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At the same time as the count, a survey was taken of willing participants. This provided somewhat of a picture of the population characteristics. Unaccompanied people with a disability who have been homeless for more than a year or had four episodes of homelessness in the past three years (termed "chronically homeless") made up 25.4% of the homeless population. 34.1% reported a mental illness. 53.8 % reported substance abuse. Veterans made up 19.3% of the population. 1.8% had HIV/AIDS. 20.4% were victims of domestic violence. Unaccompanied youth under the age of 18 were 0.6% of the homeless population. Females were 26.3% of the unsheltered count (sheltered females were not specified).
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The 2007 homeless count was the first year that Sacramento used a statistically reliable research-based method of counting homeless populations. That same method was used in 2008. Though it may seem that the differences can be documented accurately, the 2007 count took place from 4:30 to 6:30 AM, where the 2008 count was conducted in the evening hours. This, and the fact that there were a different amount of counters, could have skewed the data somewhat. The homeless count, of course, is only a verifiable estimate and cannot be relied upon for exact numbers since many homeless people were hidden or not seen by the counters.