Los Angeles, CA—The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) along with elected officials, community leaders, and volunteers, kicked off the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. After the conclusion of last night’s press conference, several of the leaders joined volunteers in starting the three-day process of counting every homeless person in most of Los Angeles County.
“Homelessness is dynamic. It changes day over day, year over year and everyone’s path is different. Conducting this count helps us better understand the needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness so that we can align our resources to best address those needs,” said Heidi Marston, Interim Executive Director of LAHSA. “Given the current crisis on our streets, the data collected during the count is more important than ever.”
The count kicked off Tuesday night with leaders from the city and county of Los Angeles reminding residents that the count helps policymakers see an accurate picture of the state of homelessness in Los Angeles County and deliver programs and services where they are needed most.
“Every single person matters — whether they have an address or not,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is important in helping us better understand the needs of our unhoused neighbors, and deciding how resources are allocated to help ensure they get the housing, healing, and hope they urgently need.”
The 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count began in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys Tuesday night. Volunteers in East and West Los Angeles will count on Wednesday, and the count will wrap up Thursday with the Antelope Valley and Metro and South Los Angeles.
“We must resolve, in our hearts and minds, that it is our duty to improve lives beyond our own,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “By volunteering for the Homeless Count, and taking other steps to help our most vulnerable neighbors, we have a chance to live out our professed values and bring them in line with our most sacred right: dignity for all.”
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires a biennial point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness. Beginning in 2016, LAHSA starting holding the Count annually to analyze the trends of people experiencing homelessness. This year, thousands of volunteers will spread out across 4,000 square miles to count the County’s unsheltered homeless population from January 21-23.
"The count is a chance for people to get directly involved in an important step to address the homelessness crisis," said Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, who serves as Chair of the City's Homelessness and Poverty Committee. "The data gathered will help all of us in our quest to obtain resources commensurate with the areas of greatest need to provide shelter, housing, and services for people experiencing homelessness in the City of Los Angeles."
Last year’s count indicated that the number of people experiencing homelessness across the county at the time rose to 59,000, 27,000 of them unsheltered. Despite the increase, the homeless services system helped more Los Angeles County than ever before. Residents exited homelessness over 21,000 times and more than 75,000 people received services, including prevention, outreach, shelters, and permanent supportive housing. More than 31,000 completed all the steps to access housing—but could not find a space to move into.
"Once again, thousands of Angelenos are participating in the single most important measure of the state of homelessness in our communities," said Councilmember Krekorioan. "I am tremendously grateful to all the volunteers who are contributing their time to the 2020 count."
“More always needs to be done and more can be done. That’s why we participate in the Count - to get a better understanding of the population we serve, to set benchmarks as a region and to secure the federal funding that will help make home a reality for so many,” said Stephanie Klasky-Gamer.
LAHSA depends on an enormous volunteer base to conduct the homeless count. This year, the agency is looking to have 8000 rsvps for the homeless count.
The Count is a critical census of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a given night and documents where unsheltered people are living. To cover 4,000 square miles over three days, we need help. There is still time to volunteer. If you are interested in helping with the Count. Please sign up at www.theycountwillyou.org/volunteer,” said LAHSA Commission Chair Sarah Dusseault.
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LAHSA is a joint powers authority of the city and county of Los Angeles, created in 1993 to address the problem of homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages over $400 million annually in federal, state, county, and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing, and services to people experiencing homelessness.