SANTA MONICA, CA – With Los Angeles County’s annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count almost approaching, Santa Monica officials are looking for volunteers.
The massive count, which covers over 4,000 square miles, is scheduled to start on Jan 21 with the Youth Count and the Housing Inventory Count starting on Jan 25. On Jan 24, the Unsheltered Count will begin in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, followed by East and West Los Angeles on January 25. The count will finish on Jan. 26 with South Los Angeles, Metro Los Angeles and the Antelope Valley.
The massive undertaking will require thousands of volunteers split into 8,000 shifts throughout the count. Volunteers will be split into groups of four to “tally the number of unsheltered individuals, tents, vehicles, and make-shift shelters they see in their assigned census tract,” according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Locals can register to volunteer at this link. Individual volunteers will be paired with teams, or volunteers can register in groups. Volunteers are generally needed for between three and four hours, including a brief training. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
“The annual Homeless Count helps us better understand the needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness so that we can align our resources to best address those needs,” Stephen David Simon, Interim Executive Director of LAHSA, said in a statement. “We need thousands of people across the County to join us in January to ensure as accurate a Count as possible.”
in 2022 LAHSA counters found that a total of 826 people were experiencing homelessness in Santa Monica at the end of February. Of that total, 132 people resided in homeless shelters which LAHSA found to be 21.9 percent lower than the amount of people in shelters in 2020. People living outside of shelters in the city grew 8 percent compared to numbers from 2020.
Last year’s homeless count estimated there were 69,144 people experiencing homelessness in 2022, a 4.1 percent jump from 2020, according to LAHSA. It’s a far cry from the 25.9 percent increase between 2018 and 2020. The county saw a 62 percent increase in shelter beds between 2019 and 2022. The results of this year’s count will likely be released in late spring or early summer 2023.
This year, the county implemented a number of changes and improvements on the count. Some improvements include simplifying training, hiring data scientists and a demographer to help with data processing and replacing the count’s existing app.