Last year, 7,500 volunteers walked the streets to count the homeless throughout the county of Los Angeles as part of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s (LAHSA) Homeless Count. This annual count helps us understand the demographics of the homeless population and identify their needs. If we can understand the “who, where and why” of homelessness in our community, we can truly help combat it.
We need your help. Two hundred volunteers are needed to help count Santa Clarita Valley’s homeless population on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at 8 p.m. The count will start at two locations: The Centre, located at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway, and Real Life Church, located at 23841 Newhall Ranch Road. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age to participate. To register, please visit TheyCountWillYou.org.
As a volunteer, you will spend four hours teaming up with other street counters to drive to designated areas within Santa Clarita Valley to conduct a visual tally of individuals who are homeless. Please wear comfortable shoes and clothes appropriate for the weather as you will be walking outdoors. Volunteer counters and drivers will receive training and materials on the day of the Count.
Why do we count? The information obtained provides a snapshot of who is experiencing homelessness and where they are located. As an example, we survey the homeless to find out if they are experiencing or have a history of issues such as mental illness, physical disability, or domestic violence. The results of the annual count give us a starting point to measure our progress toward ending homelessness. It also helps the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determine the amount of funds that should be allocated to local homeless programs.
Since 2005, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has been coordinating the Homeless Count across the county of Los Angeles. Last year’s homeless count was the largest homeless census in the nation. Throughout the county we had 7,500 volunteers, 100 percent of the county’s Continuum of Care (CoC) census tracts were counted, and 5,000 demographic surveys were completed. The census tracts include 85 cities and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, excluding the cities of Glendale, Long Beach and Pasadena.
Last year’s count identified approximately 47,000 homeless individuals and families, unsheltered and sheltered, living in the county of Los Angeles. The county of Los Angeles has the highest unsheltered homeless population in the nation with over 12,000 living in uninhabitable areas throughout the county.
The Santa Clarita City Council truly values its local community partners that include city, non-profit and religious organizations that do so much to help individuals and families in Santa Clarita who are on the brink of becoming homeless or who are already experiencing homelessness. City staff meets regularly with non-profits such as Bridge to Home and Family Promise to discuss ways we can effectively help the homeless in our City.
The problem of homelessness can be a debated topic, but the homeless count doesn’t have to be. With your involvement, we can demonstrate compassion toward our homeless neighbors and collect the information we need to prevent and end homelessness.
In order to make this year’s count as successful as last year’s, I hope you will join the effort and help count census tracts in the Santa Clarita Valley on Tuesday, January 24 at 8 p.m. Please consider participating in the homeless count this year.
Again, to volunteer, please register at TheyCountWillYou.org. If you have any questions, please contact LAHSA at 213-683-3333 or via email at [email protected].
Cameron Smyth is the Mayor of the City of Santa Clarita and can be reached at: [email protected].