Point in Time Count

Volunteers for the homeless Point in Time Count record information of homeless folks at their station in front of the Coos Bay Public Library in 2018.

COOS COUNTY — The results are in from January’s Point in Time count, a national endeavor to get a snapshot of how many homeless are in communities alongside overall data.

Raw numbers were first released in March, tallying 1,299 homeless in Coos County at the start of 2019 while the 2018 count showed 940 homeless.

“This is a 36 percent increase in individuals and a 27 percent increase in households,” read the new results released by Oregon Coast Community Action last week.

Though the new report still lists raw numbers, which will be finalized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at some point later this year, ORCCA included new statistics about where people came from and why they are in Coos County.

In the report, ORCCA pointed out that the PIT count was improved in January with a larger volunteer population in Powers and Lakeside with “intentionally less stations” in the Bay Area and more volunteers who experience homelessness themselves.

New survey questions asked to homeless individuals included, “How long have you been in this county?”

If the answer was less than a year, the survey asked where they traveled from, how they got to Coos County, and what made them choose the area.

Forty-two percent answered that they’ve been in Coos County for more than 10 years, while 21 percent said they have been in the area for one to five years, 12 percent answered six months, and 11 percent said five to 10 years. Another 11 percent answered one to six months. Only 3 percent said that they’ve been in Coos County for less than a month.

Of those who are from out of county, 52 percent were from Oregon, 12 percent from California, 8 percent from Washington, 4 percent from Alaska and another 4 percent from Montana.

Smaller percentages said they arrived to the Southern Oregon Coast from Florida, Utah, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Missouri, Virginia, Ohio, Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho and Nevada.

When asked how they arrived to Coos County, 42 percent said they drove, 19 percent listed “car,” 14 percent listed “bus," 7 percent answered “family,” while 6 percent said they hitchhiked. Smaller percentages said they walked, took an RV, biked, were brought here by a friend or used a sail boat.

When asked what made them choose Coos County, 53 percent listed family, 16 percent said “the natural environment,” 9 percent said “other,” 8 percent listed resources, 7 percent said friends, 4 percent said housing, and 3 percent listed jobs.

Broken down by how many children are experiencing homelessness by city in Coos County, Coos Bay was the highest at 26 children, followed by Bandon at 21 children, then Myrtle Point at six children and North Bend at five.

“Those numbers are still low,” said ORCCA’s Maggie Sackrider in a previous interview on the initial raw numbers from March. “… Next year we will try to count in more of the outlying communities. Powers was very engaged this year and we feel we got accurate numbers there, but we could do better in Coquille and Myrtle Point.”

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Reporter Jillian Ward can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or by email at jillian.ward@theworldlink.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JE_Wardwriter.