Homeless Count: Census taken of those without a home to call their own

February 06, 2013
Santa Paula News

Santa Paula’s annual homeless count is done and the statistics will be tabulated for a report released latear this year that will show how many are out there without a home to call their own.

Santa Paula Police Sr. Sgt. Jimmy Fogata was in charge of the census conducted by volunteers including those drawn from Ventura. Fogata said Santa Paula Citizens Patrol assisted in the effort. 

Countywide, about 300 volunteers fanned out throughout each city and the unincorporated areas January 29 with the goal of counting each homeless person. This year the County of Ventura was the lead agency of the count held on the traditional last Tuesday of January. At stake is about $2 million in federal grant funds aimed at eliminating homelessness that the county must qualify for. 

Last year Santa Paula counted 60 homeless, a figure that seesaws from year to year but has seen dramatic drops over previous years. But although each city has its own data, Fogata said local volunteers also visited “all the camps along the riverbed and creek” to help in the count. Those considered for statistical purposes city homeless were contacted in local parks, among different areas.

“Nothing bad happened, everybody was receptive” to the short questionnaire used in the count to determine age, gender, ethnicity, “hometown” and number of persons in those families that are homeless. Fogata said more of the homeless “responded to the count, where in past years we had more people that resisted” taking part in the survey.

The day started with a briefing in City Hall Council Chambers, where the approximately 12 to 15 volunteers were assigned areas to survey. Some counts in the past have needed a second day of contact, but “The volunteers had it done in one day... they did a really good job, were a lot of help,” said Fogata.

The 2012 census recorded 1,936 homeless people countywide, an increase of about 64 more than in 2011. The largest number was recorded in Ventura with 701. Oxnard was second with 522 and Simi Valley reported 284. 

Ventura and Oxnard trade off on the top two spots each year, depending on which city hosts the winter shelter. Last year the shelter was in Ventura.

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