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Thousands of Volunteers Gather to Calculate Unhoused Population in LA

By Maggie LaBarge

LOS ANGELES – From January 23rd to January 25th, thousands of volunteers gathered to count the population of unhoused individuals across Los Angeles County.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority conducts the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count each year. This event is vital when it comes to the distribution of resources across different parts of Los Angeles. 

The count began in 2016 to provide officials with an improved evaluation regarding trends in the unhoused community. The annual results are used to regulate the distribution of resources and determine whether or not significant investments toward easing the housing crisis are successful. 

The count is legally required annually during the last ten days of January. The volunteers gather in small groups to cover the 4,000 miles, checking tents, vehicles, alleyways, parks, and other locations. 

The count began in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. Volunteers then moved to East and West Los Angeles on January 24th. They finished in the Antelope Valley, Metro, and South Los Angeles on January 25th. 

This year was the second time the LAHSA volunteers used Esri’s Homeless Point in Time App to calculate the number of people seen during their count. ArcGIS Solutions described the app as a way to “rapidly conduct counts of persons experiencing homelessness who are sheltered in transitional housing, emergency shelters, and safe havens.” 

LAHSA administered a geofencing feature on the app that would alert volunteers once they left the bounds of their assigned areas. 

ABC7 reported that the 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found homelessness increased nine percent year-to-year in the county and saw an increase of 10 percent in the city. There were 75,518 unhoused individuals accounted for in the county and 46,260 recorded in the city. 

The count also includes the Los Angeles Youth Count and a housing inventory that tracks the number of sites that provide shelter to those experiencing or who have experienced homelessness. 

The Youth count was held from January 24th to January 30th, while the housing inventory was conducted on January 24th. 

According to security.org, New York City and Los Angeles account for a quarter of the nation’s unsheltered population. The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count continues to provide accurate data that helps plan new ways to combat homelessness. 

The results of this year’s count are expected to be released by LAHSA in late spring or early summer. 

Resources used:

https://abc7.com/homeless-count-county-survey/14352663/

https://www.lahsa.org/news?article=949-volunteer-registration-now-open-for-2024-homeless-count#:~:text=In%202024%2C%20thousands%20of%20volunteers,in%20their%20assigned%20census%20tract.

https://laist.com/news/housing-homelessness/2024-homeless-count-la-county-unhoused

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