Before the coronavirus, Montgomery County saw a dramatic decrease in the number of people struggling with homelessness, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.

Every year, the coalition conducts a point-in-time survey of unsheltered and sheltered homeless people. On Jan. 27, the coalition counted 145 individuals, a 51% decrease from the 298 counted in 2019.

This stands in stark contrast to Harris County and Fort Bend County, the other two areas the coalition surveys, which both saw “a plateau in the number of persons experiencing homelessness from 2019 to 2020,” according to the coalition.

Because the count took place before the coronavirus pandemic, President and CEO Michael Nichols said the coalitionwill not know how many people were made homeless due to the pandemic and its economic effects until 2021.

“To limit the spread of COVID-19 in our community, it is incredibly important that we secure permanent housing for as many people as possible as soon as possible,” Nichols said. “Having a home is the beginning of having good healthcare.”