Following some criticism over the accuracy of its annual homeless count, the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority announced some changes for its count this year.
The changes include a new app to count unsheltered people, built by a “new vendor with years of experience developing apps” for similar counts, according to a news release. The agency also plans to hire a demographer and two data scientists for data analysis, and ensure that those counting have access to paper maps and tally sheets for counts if there are issues with connecting to the internet.
LAHSA said it would deploy make-up count teams to make sure every census tract is counted, and consider tracts that do not have data to be uncounted. Volunteer training will also be offered both in-person and online.
“LAHSA continues to refine and improve our approach in the interest of a more accurate count with greater stakeholder involvement,” said Stephen David Simon, interim executive director of LAHSA. “The 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.”
The count, which will take place on the evenings of Jan. 24-26, began in 2016 to provide Los Angeles County with analysis and trends of people experiencing homelessness. The count will encompass the 4,000 square miles in the county. Volunteers will work in groups of four to count the number of unsheltered individuals, tents, vehicles and makeshift shelters in their census tract.
The 2022 homeless count by LAHSA revealed a 4.1% increase in the number of unhoused people in Los Angeles County.
The 2023 count begins Jan. 24 in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, followed by East and West Los Angeles on Jan. 25 and the Antelope Valley, Metro and South Los Angeles on Jan. 26.