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Posted on: September 7, 2021

Fueled by pandemic, homelessness on the rise in Orange County

Photo of homeless person

The number of people experiencing homelessness increased more than 40 percent in Orange County from 2020 to 2021, based on data collected during the annual Point-In-Time count coordinated by the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness (OCPEH) in January.

This year’s annual survey found 176 people experiencing homelessness, of whom 36 were unsheltered. The OCPEH coordinated with service providers across our community to count everyone experiencing homelessness as part of the annual Point-in-Time Count. The numbers revealed alarming trends.

  • 89% increase in people living unsheltered since January 2020, 19 to 36 people
  • Homelessness is up 40% over the last four years and 42% since January 2020
  • The number of people experiencing chronic homelessness nearly tripled from 2020

"We are alarmed by the large increases we’ve seen in the number of people experiencing homelessness," said Rachel Waltz, homeless programs manager with the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness. "We know that filling the homeless system gaps will go a long way to ending homelessness in our community."

The pandemic continues to underscore racial inequities in housing. Black and African American households make up 12 percent of Orange County residents and 67 percent of those accessing emergency housing services.

The OCPEH has revealed numerous gaps in the county’s efforts to end homelessness, including insufficient permanent housing programs and homeless services. Other current system gaps include funding for the Orange County Housing Helpline and Homelessness Prevention.

  • Click here to view the data.

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