In January, the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance (KTHA), an organization that connects those experiencing homelessness with a slew of resources, conducted the annual Point-In-Time (PIT) survey.

The PIT is the homeless census that counts how many people are experiencing homelessness within regions throughout Kings and Tulare counties. This survey is used to apply for funding locally, or at the state and federal levels. The survey is conducted in the cities of Porterville, Visalia, Hanford, and Tulare.

Questions on the survey ranged from how many people were staying together and where they were staying, to how many times a person has been homeless and primary reasons for being homeless.

Recently, the KTHA released the survey summary and the results showed the homeless population in the county has increased by more than 175 people from last year. Locally, Porterville’s homeless population hasn’t grown much over the last year, but has increased by a high a percentage over the last nine years.

LOOKING AT PORTERVILLE

The City of Porterville is home to 213 people who currently are experiencing homelessness. Compared to the 176 individuals who were counted as homeless in 2019, that's an increase of 21 percent. Compared to 2011, when only 82 people were reported as homeless, Porterville has seen an increase of 160 percent in its homeless population.

Of the 213 individuals experiencing homelessness, 111 of those individuals reported as being chronically homeless, and 65 percent said they have been homeless for 12 months or more. At the time of the survey in January, 174 individuals slept unsheltered, 24 people slept at emergency shelters, and 15 people slept in transitional housing. A vast majority (90 percent) live without children, while 10 percent live with children.

Among those experiencing homelessness are five veterans, 14 unaccompanied minors and 31 adults who are fleeing from domestic violence.

One of the top reasons for homelessness in Porterville is unemployment, which was reported by 28 people. Drugs and alcohol are one of the top five reasons as is the lack of affordable housing.

Porterville’s homeless population comprises nearly equally of males and females, with men edging out the women by six percent. Those who are between the ages of 45 and 54 total to a quarter of the homeless, 21 percent are 55 to 64, 20 percent of the population is between 35 and 44, 15 percent are 25 to 34, eight percent are 18 to 24, minors make up six percent of the homeless population, four percent are over the age of 65, and one percent is unknown.

A majority of those who are experiencing homelessness racially identify as Caucasian. None identified as Asian, seven percent identify as American Indian or Alaska Native, two percent are Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, one percent are multi-racial, and one percent identified as African American. Ethnically speaking, 38 percent of the homeless population reported as being Hispanic, and 62 percent reported as Non-Hispanic.

Out of 213 people, 89 reported they had a disability. Of those 89, 39 percent of them reported having mental disabilities, 41 percent said physical, 24 percent said substance addiction, and 17 percent said developmental disabilities.

A COUNTY PERSPECTIVE 

According to the survey results, 992 individuals are experiencing homelessness in Tulare County, a 22 percent increase from 2019 when the number of homeless individuals was 814, and a 60 percent increase from 2011 when only 620 individuals were counted as part of the homeless population. Of those 992 people currently experiencing homelessness, 420 of them reported they were chronically homeless, and 68 percent reported as being homeless for more than one year. 

The top reason for homelessness in Tulare County is unemployment, which 20 percent of the homeless population reported as their reason for being homeless. “Other” is the second most prevalent reason, and drugs or alcohol addictions is the third.

When the survey was being conducted throughout the county, 704 people slept in unsheltered locations, 139 slept at emergency shelters, and 149 people slept in transitional housing. Just more than half, or 60 percent of the homeless population is male, while the remaining 40 percent is female. Roughly 25 percent of the homeless population are between the ages of 35 and 44, 24 percent are 45 to 54, 18 percent are between 55 and 64, 16 percent are 25 to 34, seven percent are under the age of 18, six percent are between 18 and 24, and only four percent are over the age of 65.

Of the 992 individuals experiencing homelessness throughout Tulare County, 82 percent of them were racially identified as Hispanic or white, six percent as American Indian or Alaska Native, six percent as African American, two percent as multi-racial, one percent as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and one percent unknown. When surveyed about their ethnicity, 44 percent of the homeless population in Tulare County ethnically identified themselves as Hispanic, 55 percent identified as Non-Hispanic, and one percent identified as unknown.

While 88 percent of the homeless population throughout the county were without children, 12 percent were with children and 53 unaccompanied youth were counted. Forty-seven homeless veterans were also counted. There were 101 individuals who reported they were fleeing from domestic violence.

Just under half of the homeless population (43 percent) stated they had a disability. Of those surveyed who claimed to have a disability, 40 percent said that disabling condition was mental, 34 percent said physical, 30 percent said they suffered from a substance addiction, and 13 percent reported they had developmental disabilities.

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