If someone sat down to paint a portrait of the typical homeless person in Orange County, what might they draw?
Based on characteristics that emerge from the recently finished report on the 2017 Point In Time Count & Survey of the Homeless for Orange County, the face of homelessness staring out from our streets most likely looks like this:
He’s a white male, over the age of 25. He tends to live alone and is defined as “unsheltered” since he sleeps in some area not intended for human habitation — the concrete, a park, the river bed, bus stops, abandoned buildings, a car.
He would be among the 4,792 homeless people enumerated in a snapshot census undertaken early one morning in January.
He doesn’t have a child with him because, like most of Orange County’s homeless people, he is a single-adult household. He has a 1 in 10 chance of being a military veteran.
Like 91 percent of the homeless people willing to answer a question about chronic substance abuse as part of the survey, he will say drugs or alcohol don’t pose a problem for him. But there’s about a 12 percent chance he suffers from mental illness. Again, that’s according to what he is comfortable telling a stranger.
Jail or prison may not be that far behind in his rear view mirror, since nearly one-third of those surveyed said they had been incarcerated sometime in the past 12 months before the Point In Time count was taken.
Eight percent of those who answered the survey question about being released from incarceration over the past year said it had been a result of re-sentencing or a downgraded charge under Prop. 47, the reduced penalties initiative approved by California voters in 2014.
The 59-page document was produced by data analytics consultant Focus Strategies and represents a one-night sampling of homelessness in Orange County, where the federally mandated Point In Time count is conducted every other year.
The final report was quietly posted online at the end of August, several months after it was expected to be finished.
The delay was due to additional coordination needed between 2-1-1 Orange County, the nonprofit that oversees the Point In Time count, and increased county staff and departments now engaged in tackling homelessness, said Kristin Jefferson, 2-1-1’s director of collaborative engagement.
“It’s a new process because of the new folks that we have that are invested in the work, which is probably a good thing,” Jefferson said.
The county already submitted…