Tehama County conducts homeless count

Jan 26, 2015 7:28 PM by Charlene Cheng

"I gotta live in a tent because there's people around that use, and I'm trying to stay clean for myself. I'm 56 days clean and I love it. I love the cleanness," Rayne Smith said.

She's just one member of Tehama County's homeless population.

Today, volunteers headed to shelters and camps to count just how many people are living on the streets.

"It gives us an opportunity to interview and survey sheltered and unsheltered homeless people. This is what we use for our funding stream, this is how we get the money we use to help the homeless and the poor, the working class in Tehama County," Wayne Owensby said.

Subjects of the census are asked questions about family size, health issues, veteran status, why they're homeless--all with the goal of making sure that the county is taking care of their needs.

It's important to keep in mind that this census is just a one-day snapshot, and it can be difficult to include those who are in and out of homes in the count.

"I'm seeing more working class people who can be considered couch surfers, who can be considered homeless, who are one paycheck from being considered homeless now," Owensby said.

But while the final count might not be completely accurate, it gives the community a basis to evaluate its service programs, which some people credit for saving their lives.

"I know in this county, the more I put into recovery, the more strings this county, the drug and alcohol counselors pull strings. It was a matter of how much I wanted recovery. There is at least help in Tehama County for people that want it," Suzette Houben said.


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