Fresno, Madera launch annual homeless count as crisis deepens

The count provides a snapshot of the current homeless situation, one that has worsened in recent years.

The annual point-in-time count by the Fresno-Madera Continuum of Care is currently underway, which will give the community in both counties an idea of how many people are living on the streets at the moment. 

This week’s count marks the second year in a row the continuum has organized volunteers to conduct the survey after canceling the 2021 count due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


The big picture: With the point-in-time count providing a snapshot of the region’s number of people experiencing homelessness, it serves as a critical data source to evaluate the progress Fresno and Madera counties are making against the homelessness crisis. 

  • Last year’s count, which was conducted in February and released in July, found 4,216 people who are homeless, which continued the recent trend of rising homelessness in the area. The 2022 count saw homelessness increase by 15.8 percent over 2020, and the 2020 count saw a dramatic 45.2 percent rise in homelessness. 

State of play: The annual count comes at a timely moment considering the recent proposals floated around by elected officials and homeless advocates. 

  • Earlier this month, Fresno City Councilman Miguel Arias proposed turning the Fresno Convention Center into a massive homeless shelter to legally enable police to move the homeless from the streets as part of an overarching housing emergency plan. 
  • In turn, Fresno Mission CEO Matthew Dildine one-upped Arias’s proposal with one of his own: Turn the bankrupt Madera Community Hospital into a homeless shelter that could provide unique services given the medical facilities on site. All homeless in both Fresno and Madera Counties would be served at the hospital under the plan. However, his proposal drew quick opposition from Madera County Supervisor Jordan Wamhoff, saying Madera County is not a dumping ground for Fresno’s homeless population. 

What we’re watching: Last year’s count, while revealing higher numbers of total homeless people, reported a 95.6 percent increase in the sheltered homeless population, begging the question of whether the new count will reveal the same trend. 

What they’re saying: “The count helps us determine how many units short of affordable housing we may be,” continuum vice chair Jody Ketcheside told Nexstar. “Some of the shelters are full on any given day. There may be a couple of beds available, but people are utilizing them.” 

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