20200125-bc-Homelesscount (copy)

Curtis, who lives by the railroad tracks off Sumner Street, acknowledges that he was counted by volunteers participating in the point-in-time homeless count in January 2020. The 2021 count will not be done in person.

January's annual homeless count will look a lot different this time — it will use case management data rather than having volunteers go out and count people in person.

The Bakersfield-Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative announced changes to its planned methodology for the 2021 Point in Time Count, slated for Jan. 26 and 27.

It will use existing case management data from the Bakersfield/Kern County Homeless Management Information System to report the number of unsheltered people in Kern County, according to a news release from the collaborative. Emergency shelters and navigation centers will provide their point-in-time data.

The change is because of a surge in COVID-19 cases and follows guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“Our top priority is to help protect the health and safety of our volunteers and neighbors experiencing homelessness,” Anna Laven, the collaborative's executive director, said in the news release. “Our revised PIT Count methodology will help us accomplish this while also providing an accurate snapshot of the number of individuals experiencing homelessness in the Bakersfield/Kern County region.”

Usually, hundreds of volunteers would fan out across Kern County to count unsheltered people. The count is important for several reasons, including because it helps determine the amount of federal and state funds local agencies can receive.