This week, in the early hours before sunrise and long after sunset, Californians gathered to take action against homelessness in their communities. January marks the Point-in-Time count—a moment in time when volunteers go out on foot or by car to count our unhoused neighbors.
Statewide, PATH helped across the 140 cities we serve.
In San Diego County, Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and California Volunteers walked downtown’s streets to count people who are homeless. They then visited PATH and made breakfast for the residents who call our interim housing a temporary home. Serving and engaging with their unhoused constituents, they showed their dedication to homelessness as they expand affordable housing and supportive service opportunities statewide.
In Los Angeles County, the PATH Metro Villas Town Square served as one of many headquarters for the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, like we’ve done annually for many years. Hundreds of PATH’s leadership, staff, and neighbors set off across the County—from LAX and West LA to Long Beach and downtown—to show our community that we will not accept a future where individuals and families suffer in poverty.
Next week, PATH will join the on-the-ground efforts in Santa Barbara County, where we continue to see our unhoused neighbors outpace housing availability. In Santa Clara County, which conducted a 2019 biennial count, we are building affordable housing with wraparound supportive services to work toward a 2021 decline.
Homelessness is an everyday reality that affects all our lives—housed or unhoused. When we maneuver around a Veteran’s encampment on the pavement. When we drive by a mother with tired eyes, holding a tattered sign that tells us her children are hungry and scared. And when we see our own family members and friends struggle with issues that lead toward homelessness’ cycle.
But every day, I am encouraged when I walk into PATH and see our street outreach workers providing our neighbors with support and helping them access our programs. When PATH’s housing specialists are taking landlords through the steps of opening their apartments to our clients. When our real estate managers are examining the blueprints of California’s soon-to-be new affordable housing communities. And when our case managers are giving parents and children the keys to homes of their own.
So while homelessness is indeed an everyday reality that affects all our lives, the Point-in-Time count reminds me that it’s a reality we can change. There are challenges and it will take time but—if we all band together as we do each January—we can give everyone a path to make it home. Thank you to all of you, our dedicated supporters, for your personal investments of time, dollars, and will. It will take a village, but we will get it done.
Joel John Roberts