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LAHSA Wraps Up the 2023 Greater Los Angeles Unsheltered Count
LAHSA reports a successful homeless count as its quality assurance process improved data collection and overcame technical challenges.
Los Angeles – Today, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) announced it finished the 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count enumeration process. Today’s announcement marks the end of the counting period that started on January 22- with the beginning of the youth count and ended on January 31. Volunteers and staff from various cities completed 93% of the census tracts in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care on the first three nights. Special count teams counted the remaining census tracts in the days following the volunteer counts.
“The Homeless Count is an opportunity to reflect on the life-saving impact of our collective investments, the challenges we continue to tackle together, and the humanity of the homelessness crisis. To provide the best picture possible, we needed thousands of volunteers willing to count their unsheltered neighbors,” said Stephen David Simon, Interim Executive Director of LAHSA. “Thanks to their partnership and a well-executed quality assurance process, the Homeless Count results will paint a transparent picture of people experiencing homelessness in our region at a single point in time.”
The count of unsheltered persons centered on 6,066 registered volunteers heading into their communities to conduct a visual count of their unhoused neighbors and the tents, vehicles, RVs, and other makeshift shelters that people experiencing homelessness were occupying from January 24 to 26. In addition to the volunteer-based counts, several cities opted to have city employees conduct the Homeless Count instead of volunteers. Moreover, several special teams consisting of LAHSA outreach, County Park staff, and law enforcement counted in census tracts near creeks or other high-risk areas.
Out of the 3,193 census tracts for this year’s Homeless Count, the count teams completed 2,967 census tracts over the first three nights. LAHSA outreach teams conducted make-up counts on the remaining 229 census tracts due to missing or incomplete data, including 17 census tracts located in dangerous areas like creeks or rivers, which is down from 480 make-up census tracts in 2022.
For the 2023 Homeless Count, LAHSA took lessons learned from the 2022 Homeless Count and best practices from previous years to improve deployment sites, training, and new digital tools. These steps included using a mobile data collection app and live dashboard created by Esri, a global leader in location intelligence.
LAHSA also implemented a quality assurance process to ensure the successful collection of count data in case of any potential technical difficulties, which included the following:
Allowing volunteers to see data submissions in the app and enabling deployment site leads and LAHSA headquarters to review incoming data in real time on a count dashboard
Utilizing a redundancy process by which the deployment site coordinator electronically recorded paper tally sheet and map data using manual entry and photographs
Considering a tract uncounted and marking it for a LAHSA team to conduct a make-up count if neither the deployment site nor LAHSA headquarters could determine that a count team completed the census tract
Over the three nights, the mobile data collection app successfully captured 95.6% of the census tract data captured by count teams.
On night two of the Homeless Count, Wednesday, January 25, the near real-time synchronization between LAHSA headquarters and site coordinators' digital dashboard and the volunteers’ collection app experienced a delay between 9:30-11:00 p.m. While the disruption created a lag in the real-time sync time to the database, it did not impact volunteers’ ability to accurately collect data on their phones, as the mobile app is designed to work in offline scenarios. All data was captured and populated into the system. The disruption also did not impact the mobile backup survey tool the deployment site leads used to submit data and photos of the maps.
Ultimately, with LAHSA’s adoption of new technology and the quality assurance processes deployed as an extra precaution, volunteers successfully collected and uploaded count information.
With the conclusion of the counting phase of the annual Homeless Count, LAHSA will turn over the data collected to its data partners at the University of Southern California (USC). USC will perform the statistical analysis on the Homeless Count data that LAHSA expects to release in late spring or early summer 2023.
While the Homeless Count has concluded, if any volunteer believes that the deployment site did not record the data they collected during their count, they should contact LAHSA immediately at email@example.com to allow the agency can take the appropriate steps to ensure all data are recorded.
About the Homeless Count
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires a biennial Point-in-Time Count of people experiencing homelessness. In 2016, LAHSA started hosting the Homeless Count annually to provide improved analysis regarding the trends of people experiencing homelessness. Government agencies, including LAHSA, use the data collected during the Homeless Count to develop strategies to end homelessness and determine where funding and resources to meet the greatest need. The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count includes the Youth Count and the Housing Inventory Count.
HUD dictates the Point-in-Time Count’s methodology and timing to achieve nationwide consistency. LAHSA conducts the largest scale point-in-time count in the nation.