Sacramento State played a pivotal role in the just-released Homeless Point-in-Time (PIT) Count report, which revealed a 19 percent increase in homelessness in Sacramento County.

On two consecutive nights in late January 2019, teams of Sac State students – most of them studying Social Work – joined hundreds of other community volunteers to fan out across the county to assess its number of homeless. The students, along with University faculty and staff, interviewed individuals in shelters and others sleeping out of doors.

The census results, released Wednesday, June 26, showed that the number of homeless people in Sacramento County has increased, but the growth rate is slower than in previous years. The PIT Count found that 5,570 people experience homelessness on any given night.

Other significant findings:

  • 93 percent of people interviewed said they’re originally from Sacramento or are long-term residents.
  • 20 percent were families with children.
  • Lack of affordable housing was given by people interviewed as the main reason they were homeless.

Sac State Downtown served as one of two deployment centers for the 2019 Homeless PIT Count.

Volunteer teams were dispatched to specific counting areas across Sacramento County. The routes were mapped by faculty researchers in the Division of Social Work – Arturo Baiocchi, Susanna Curry, Tyler Arguello, Jennifer Price Wolf, and Ethan Evans – and the University’s Institute for Social Research (ISR). They provided the methodology analysis for the 2019 PIT Data Collection.

The campus Community Engagement Center helped recruit volunteers from Sac State.

“Our focus was the unsheltered-homeless count,” Baiocchi says. “We collected information about known homeless encampments in Sacramento County and identified about 160 areas. And this year, volunteers also went to random areas where we had no information that there were encampments, to see if they coiuld find anyone. This was a more rigorous PIT count than we did two years ago.”

This was the second time that Sacramento Steps Forward, the nonprofit charged with conducting the count for the federal government, partnered with Sac State to provide research and analytical services.

"We see this work from the lens of research and teaching, but also as a way of contributing to and working with the community on this critical social issue," Baiocchi says. 

In 2017, on a single night, more than 2,000 individuals were found to be sleeping outside or in something unsuited for extended habitation, such as a tent, trailer, or automobile. Another 1,613 individuals were found in emergency shelters or transitional housing. – Dixie Reid