Volunteers will fan out across the Antelope Valley Thursday evening on the last of three nights of the delayed 2022 Greater Los Angeles Point-in-Time Homeless Count.
The count is an annual, mandated means for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to obtain an accurate count of the number of unhoused people in the county.
The effort is essential to understanding how large the region’s homelessness crisis has become. It must be conducted by Continuum of Care providers to receive federal funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“This is a moral crisis of a magnitude that governments, the private sector, philanthropy can’t end in isolation. It’s going to take all of us and you being a participant and volunteering in the count is a perfect example of ways in which you can step up and help us by identifying who needs care and the kind of care they need,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Holly Mitchell said.
This year’s count is the county’s first since 2020, as last year’s was canceled when LAHSA determined it was not safe to gather 8,000 volunteers amid stay-at-home orders and curfews 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 count. Due to the ongoing pandemic, volunteers are conducting the count by driving around the area, instead of some volunteers fanning out on foot.
“I am sure it’ll feel a bit awkward to participate in the count from your car without the ability to directly offer help, but please know that your contribution to this count gives us critical data that every year informs policymakers at every level of government around policy decisions, resulting in direct services and homes for our unhoused,” Mitchell said.
Other changes this year include moving deployment sites outdoors, moving volunteer training sessions online, encouraging volunteers to minimize cross-group interactions, requiring masks and encouraging volunteers to be vaccinated. Volunteers are also using an app to collect and submit information electronically for the first time, instead of using clipboards and writing down their information physically. This year’s count was originally planned for Jan. 25-27, but the county’s surge in COVID cases, fueled by the Omicron variant, forced a one- month postponement.
According to the 2020 count, the LA County’s homeless population increased by 12.7% over the previous year, while the Antelope Valley homeless population jumped by 44% — from 3,293 in 2019 to 4,755 in 2020. [View the 2020 Antelope Valley breakdown here.]
Results of the 2022 count are expected to be made public by LAHSA over the summer.