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Los Angeles County Resumes Annual Homeless Count
Los Angeles – Local officials gathered Tuesday virtually to commemorate the start of the 2022 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. The three-day annual census of people experiencing homelessness begins tonight after a one-year hiatus due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Executive Director Heidi Marston kicked off today's event, stating, “[S]tarting tonight, thousands of volunteers will spread out across the county to participate in the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. The data from this year’s Count will help us understand who our unhoused neighbors are, their needs, and the programs we need to continue to build to support them getting rehoused.”
Marston continued by calling for all stakeholders to stay committed to addressing homelessness in Los Angeles County, “Homelessness is a humanitarian crisis and truly addressing it means that all of us need to commit to the same unprecedented coordination that we brought during the pandemic. We can do that by working together to strengthen our social safety net systems and by remaining steadfast in creating the hundreds of thousands of affordable homes necessary to meet LA County's needs.”
Since 2016, the Los Angeles Continuum of Care, overseen by LAHSA, has conducted an unsheltered street count annually to understand homelessness across the county better. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires conducting a count every other year.
“Over the next three days, thousands of dedicated volunteers will hit the streets of Los Angeles County to gather data that will drive our efforts to bring our unsheltered neighbors indoors,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “This is a significant Homeless Count — not only is it the first since the pandemic began, but it is how we will wrap our arms around the impacts of COVID-19 and both marshal resources and build momentum to quickly roll out the services, support, and housing that people need and deserve.”
Given the size of Los Angeles County, volunteers will spend three nights counting in different parts of the region:
February 22, 2022: San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys
February 23, 2022: West Los Angeles, Southeast Los Angeles, & the South Bay
February 24, 2022: Antelope Valley, Metro Los Angeles, and South Los Angeles
Homeless count deployment sites will utilize different COVID-19 precautions, including outdoor distribution of materials, requiring all volunteers and staff to wear masks, directing participants to maintain social distance, and making personal protective equipment (PPE) accessible to all participants.
While volunteers are encouraged to register as teams to avoid unnecessary exposure to one another, LAHSA is also encouraging volunteers to be vaccinated and/or show negative test results if they intend to work with other volunteers outside their respective bubbles.
While thousands of volunteers are signed up to count their unhoused neighbors across Los Angeles County, LAHSA and its partners are still looking for more volunteers to help complete the Count.
“Successfully addressing homelessness requires our community to come together to provide the resources needed to bring people inside to safety and help them find a permanent home. That work begins tonight with Homeless Count, and I’m asking the people of LA County to join us. We still need volunteers to go into their community and count their unsheltered neighbors. If you are interested in helping us, please visit TheyCountWillYou.org to sign up to volunteer,” concluded Marston.
Below are remarks from other officials present at Tuesday's news conference:
Congressman Tony Cardenas: “The work of the Mayor, the City Council and LAHSA during the pandemic to provide shelter for unhoused Angelenos saved lives. But there is more that can and must be done to build upon the work of the City. As a former City Councilman, I understand the seriousness of the homelessness crisis – a crisis that affects Americans across our country – and know how important increasing access to safe and reliable housing is for Americans in need. As we emerge from this pandemic, we must address this crisis with a whole- of-government approach and work together to end homelessness in our city.”
State Sen. Bob Hertzberg: “Our solutions are only as good as our data and 2020 feels like ages ago when it comes to understanding the magnitude of the crisis we face,” Senate Majority Leader Emeritus Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) said. “This new point-in-time count will put critical numbers to the homelessness crisis we see unfolding before our eyes every day. The results will help us get the right services to those on the streets. Everyone counts.”
LA County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly J. Mitchell: “After a year of hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Point-in-Time Homeless count is urgently needed to help provide a clear assessment of where we have made gains and still have work to do in getting our fellow Angelenos the services and housing they need. I want to thank the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and the thousands of volunteers helping to capture the reality of this crisis. A shared commitment to counting our unhoused residents helps inform the necessary policy and funding actions we must take to prevent and stop the inflow of residents experiencing homelessness.”
LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl: “This year’s count carries a sense of special anticipation because we haven’t been able to conduct one for the last two years. In addition, the visibility of street homelessness has brought a pervasive sense that we have lost ground. I know everyone is frustrated that we haven’t found enough housing for all those who have lost theirs, but thanks to all the great Homeless Count volunteers, we will soon have a more accurate measure to help us. Regardless of what we discover, we will always strive to do more, and do better.”
LA City Councilman Paul Krekorian: “With cancellation of the 2021 count, this year assumes even greater importance," said Councilmember Paul Krekorian. "The economic dislocation and public health crisis caused by the pandemic has in all likelihood increased the number of people living on our streets. I salute the 2022 volunteers, who have come out under difficult circumstances to count their homeless neighbors. Your participation is critical in helping to direct resources where they are needed most."
LAHSA Commissioner Wendy Greuel: "Ensuring we have an accurate count of people experiencing homeless is critically important to developing a comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness. The crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic allowed us to house the most vulnerable and demonstrated the importance of coordination among all levels of government. A special thank you to the LAHSA team and the volunteers who will be out all over the county of Los Angeles allowing us to
have an accurate count that will allow us to commit the resources necessary to serve the most vulnerable."