ANTELOPE VALLEY – The number of unhoused people in the Antelope Valley has decreased slightly since 2020, according to the latest point-in-time tally released Thursday, Sept. 8, by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. [View it here.]
The results of the point-in-time count, conducted over three nights in February, estimated that 4,598 people were experiencing homelessness in the Antelope Valley at that time, a 3% decline from 2020, while 69,144 people were experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County, a 4% rise from 2020. (A count was not conducted in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.)
This year’s Homeless Count results offer a stark contrast to the results of the Homeless Counts between 2019 and 2020, where the Antelope Valley saw a 44% increase in the number of unhoused people.
This year’s count may have been affected by the Omicron surge, especially the youth count with many youth centers closed, LAHSA officials said. Officials collected around 1,780 fewer surveys from LA County youth between the ages of 18 and 24, and nearly 2,000 fewer surveys from families compared to 2020. Officials also warned that the system was in a unique situation this year, with more one-time federal pandemic assistance programs ending. That could lead to more housing insecurity and fewer resources for rehousing systems to respond, according to Kristina Dixon, acting co-executive director of LAHSA.
“Because homelessness is a lagging indicator, it is possible that future homeless counts could show significant increases,” Dixon said.
Homelessness among Hispanic and Latino residents in the Antelope Valley increased by 12% since 2020, while homelessness among the Black/African American population in the Antelope Valley decreased by 5% since 2020, and homeless in the White population decreased by 1%.
More than 30% of people experiencing homelessness in the Antelope Valley are also experiencing serious mental illness or substance abuse, and in Los Angeles County that number is nearly 40%, the data showed. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger believed those numbers are actually higher, citing a UCLA study showing the figure is closer to 50% in LA County.
“My perspective remains unchanged – housing, mental health support and addiction treatment must be provided if we’re going to make a meaningful dent in our homelessness crisis,” Barger said. “Our County and local leaders must do more to increase both beds and services. Our solutions must take a whole person approach and equitably provide both housing and healing.”
LAHSA was originally scheduled to release the results earlier this summer, but postponed it in July because of a delay by HUD in validating the data. 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. Due to the pandemic, volunteers conducted the count this year by driving around the area, instead of some volunteers fanning out on foot.
Other changes included 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 also used 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.