Each year, counties across the state conduct a Point In Time (PIT) count to identify community members who are either un- or under-sheltered. The 2022 San Juan County PIT Homeless Count identified 146 people who have no stable place to live, an increase from the 2020 count of 133. (Due to COVID-19 concerns no Point in Time Count was held in Washington in 2021).
Of the 146 people identified as having no stable place to live, 58 people were living out of doors, in vehicles, in abandoned buildings, or in an RV or boat that lacked access to one or more of the following: drinking water, a restroom, heat, the ability to cook food, or the ability to bathe.
The remaining 88 were at risk of homelessness. These families reside in temporary, unstable living arrangements with family and/or friends, or live in substandard housing. The 2020 count found 66 homeless and 67 at risk of homelessness. In 2019, the count found 67 people homeless and 82 at risk of homelessness.
During the pandemic, the Community Emergency Response Fund supported a shelter program to temporarily house many houseless neighbors. This effort has morphed into the Coalition on Houseless on Orcas (COHO). The coalition is working to find long term local solutions and was recently awarded a Technical Assistance grant from WA State to provide support for program design and grant applications. The State has great interest in supporting housing solutions in rural communities, as every community has unsheltered neighbors in need. It is tricky in smaller communities, as we are working with a relatively small population.
If you are interested in learning more or in joining the coalition, give me a call or swing by the OICF office.
San Juan County Health will be hosting a Vaccine Booster Clinic on May 4th and 5th at the Orcas Center. You can sign up here.
I hope you have a good weekend.