County looks to gather data on homeless families

FILE PHOTO Bridge to Home Shelter donations come from families, churches, scouts and businesses. Helping set up the sleeping quarters with blankets and towels are volunteers Haley (L) and Riley (C) Cabot and Resident Attendant Jayne Patafio (R). Photo Tom Cruze/For the Signal
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To better serve and account for homeless families, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will look to more accurately count this population.

If passed, Tuesday’s agenda item will call for up-to-date data of homeless families in shelters, crisis housing, bridge housing and permanent housing and those using case management.

“As the community-based providers are still ramping up and hiring to expand services, it is critical that available data is utilized to analyze the needs of the family system so that effective services to homeless families and children can continue in an expedient and
efficient manner,” Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas wrote in his motion.

More people have been served than the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority anticipated this year, Ridley-Thomas said.

LAHSA expected to serve 1,300 homeless families throughout the whole 2017-18 Fiscal Year and served 1,700 in the first two months alone, the motion cites.

Though Santa Clarita’s homeless count in January totaled 331 homeless individuals, that number is low, according to Peggy Edwards, Bridge to Home’s governing board president.

“We have more clients than we have counted in the homeless count,” Edwards said.

The homeless count, a federal government mandate, differs by location. The count is more accurate on the East Coast because most homeless people are housed in shelters, according to Edwards.

On the West Coast, there are more people spread across a larger area and many are living on the street and are harder to find, she said.

“It’s very easy to miss people,” the governing board president said. “Until we have different methodology, we’ll have what we have.”

If passed, the county will evaluate the contracted capacity versus actual enrollment for those in temporary and permanent housing.

Additionally, they will compare final expenditures to allocated budgets, and evaluate how long families spend in housing, how long they require assistance and the estimated added funding that will be required.

The county will also compare the current case management ratio to the recommended ratio and estimate the added funding needed to meet the demand.

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