Fredericksburg Regional Continuum of Care releases 2023 winter Point-in-Time count
From the Continuum of Care
The Fredericksburg Regional Continuum of Care – the planning body that coordinates services for those experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness in the Fredericksburg Region – has released the results of their 2023 Point-in-Time count, showing a decrease in overall homelessness over the last year, but an increase in those living outside.
The Point-in-Time (PIT) count is a census of people experiencing homelessness, defined as sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter, on a single night in January. Each year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires Continuum of Cares (CoC) across the country to conduct this
annual count of people experiencing homelessness in the geographic area that they serve. Each count is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally. The Fredericksburg Regional CoC conducted their count on January 25th, 2023, allowing the CoC to get critical information on its homeless population.
Over 50 community-based providers and volunteers spread throughout the region helped complete the count. Teams covered all localities in the region (City of Fredericksburg and the Counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford) and administered surveys in many locations, including on the street, at encampments, in area hotels and emergency shelters, and at community service locations. All surveys were collected anonymously. The surveys collected demographic information on the homeless population in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, age, homeless history, and other key information to help programs understand the needs of the overall homeless population.
The 2023 PIT count identified 217 people experiencing homelessness on the night of the count. This is a 17% decrease from the 2022 PIT count.
“Over the past 3 years, we have seen PIT count numbers going through a roller coaster transition as homeless services continuously adapts to the ever-changing impacts of the pandemic” says Samantha Shoukas, Housing and Community Health Program Director at the George Washington Regional
Commission, the lead agency for staffing the CoC.
Shoukas says “In 2021, the CoC saw the lowest PIT count numbers ever recorded, with a total of 187 people, as the system received massive funding increases due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Then, in 2022, the CoC recorded the highest PIT count numbers, a total of 253, as the system continued to
work through resources and increased capacity to serve more people. Now, this year, the 2023 PIT count number starts to mirror that of pre-pandemic numbers as the homeless response system returns to pre-pandemic capacity and services.”
The 2023 reports states that 33 people were identified as sleeping unsheltered on the night of the PIT Count. These are places such as encampments, cars, public spaces, or other places not meant for habitation. One of these unsheltered households was a family with children. “The 33 unsheltered identified in the count represents a 120% increase over 2022’s count” Shoukas says. “For the past 2 years, the CoC has been relying on hotel shelters, funded by COVID dollars, to offer a more personalized shelter option for many. As COVID dollars ran out and hotel shelters began to close, those with serious mental illness were less likely to use the traditional congregate shelters options available in the community and opted to sleep unsheltered.”
The count found that 50% of those identified as homeless were white, 35% were Black, 5% Asian American, and 10% identified as multiple races. With regional average population at around 20% Black, this PIT count data shows that a disproportionate number of people of color are falling into
homelessness. The count identified 13 veterans experiencing homelessness. 12% percent of adults reported that domestic violence was the reason for their homelessness. 60% of adults reported mental health conditions, and 32% of adults reported a permanent disability.
“This PIT count, the CoC focused efforts on better tracking the localities in which folks were sleeping on the night of the PIT Count” says Christian Zammas, Chair of the CoC Board and a person with lived experience of homelessness. “Traditionally, we have said that most of those experiencing homelessness have been in the City of Fredericksburg, which remains true for sheltered homelessness as most of the homeless shelters are within City limits. However, what we saw this year is that most of the unsheltered population, 48%, were in the Spotsylvania area. This information helps us show that homelessness is truly a regional issue.”
The CoC will also be conducting a Summer PIT Count in July 2023. This data will be used to compare the numbers between seasons to understand the impacts of weather changes that make unsheltered living more possible and safer, and the closing of the area’s Cold Weather Shelter.
The Continuum of Care’s full Winter 2023 Point-in-Time count report can be found on their website at: https://www.fredericksburgcoc.org/our-work/data/
Those interested in volunteering for the Summer 2023 PIT count can register here: https://www.fredericksburgcoc.org/pit
Here’s the overall report: