2022 LA County Homeless Census postponed to February 22-24 due to COVID

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The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority announced Friday that its annual homeless census will be postponed by a month due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and will now take place from February 22-24.

The effort, known as the Point-in-Time Count, or Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, is essential to understanding just how big the homelessness crisis has become in the area. It must be performed by Continuum of Care providers to receive federal funding through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

During the three-day count, Los Angeles County is divided as follows:

– The San Gabriel and San Fernando Valley censuses will take place on February 22nd;

– West LA, Southeast LA and South Bay counts will take place on February 23; and

– Antelope Valley, Metro LA and South LA counts will take place on February 24th.

“As we work to ensure an accurate homeless count, we cannot ignore the rising number of positive COVID-19 cases in our area,” said LAHSA executive director Heidi Marston.

“Even with safeguards such as moving training online, developing outdoor work sites and keeping households together, the January census puts our unhoused neighbors, volunteers, staff and the accuracy of the census at risk.”

LAHSA had already made design changes to this year’s census due to COVID-19, even before the surge in the Omicron variant postponed the survey.

Changes include moving volunteer sites outdoors, moving volunteer training online, encouraging volunteers to minimize cross-group interactions, requiring masks, and asking volunteers to get vaccinated.

“The Homeless Count is an essential tool in giving us a snapshot of homelessness. Data from the census will be used to inform the delivery of services and programs to people living with homelessness in Los Angeles,” Marston added.

“This decision is our best way to ensure the accuracy of the homeless count without compromising the health and safety of the homeless, volunteers and the community.”

This year’s count will be the first since 2020 since last year’s was canceled after the LAHSA determined it was unsafe to collect 8,000 volunteers, taking into account Los Angeles County Department of Health and Human Services guidance and taking into account orders and curfews to stay at home due to COVID-19.

The county received an exemption from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and was not required to conduct a 2021 census.

Los Angeles County Superintendent Hilda Solis said Friday that she supports the census postponement and is putting the health and safety of LAHSA’s staff, volunteers and the unhoused population first.

“Postponing the count until we can safely do so will help ensure the accuracy of the homeless count. I look forward to joining LAHSA and hundreds of volunteers across the county in February,” added Solis.

According to the 2020 census, the county’s homeless population increased 12.7% from a year earlier, while the city of Los Angeles’ homeless population increased 14.2%.

As of January 2019, 58,936 people were homeless in Los Angeles County, but as of January 2020, the number had risen to 66,433. The city of Los Angeles had 36,165 in 2019 and 41,290 in 2020.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is seeking volunteers for the 2021 census. People can register at theycountwillyou.org.

2022 LA County Homeless Census postponed to February 22-24 due to COVID was last modified: January 14, 2022 through Contributing Editor

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