By Councilmember Cameron Smyth
In order to gather much needed information about those experiencing homelessness in our community, we urge you to volunteer for the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, spearheaded by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). Our Santa Clarita count will take place next Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Similar counts will be held throughout the week in all areas of Los Angeles County. Volunteers are needed to assist with a point-in-time count, which will take place on a single night and account for the number of people in the community who are experiencing homelessness, including both sheltered and unsheltered populations.
The goal of the Homeless Count is to gather data that will provide vital information as to the state of homelessness in Los Angeles County so that government and nonprofit organizations can offer the resources people experiencing homelessness need most. The results of the annual Homeless Count are utilized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and by the County of Los Angeles to determine the amount of funds that will be allocated to local homeless programs. For those that have not heard of the Homeless Count or volunteered for the event in the past, here is a rundown of how it works.
In Santa Clarita, our volunteers will gather at The Centre (20880 Centre Pointe Parkway) or the Mental Health America of Los Angeles Military Resource Center (24885 Railroad Avenue) at 7:00 p.m. and team up to help count homeless individuals in the Santa Clarita Valley. The count is expected to last about four hours, during which teams will drive to predetermined locations to conduct a visual tally of unsheltered individuals. Volunteer counters and drivers will receive materials and instructions at The Centre or the Mental Health America of Los Angeles Military Resource Center prior to the start of the count.
We are hoping to get approximately 100 volunteers at each site to assist us with the 2018 Homeless Count and I encourage you to take a few hours out of your evening to help with this important program. Volunteers must be 18 years or older to participate and can register online by visiting TheyCountWillYou.org. When you register, you will be advised on which of the two locations to report to.
Your City Council is committed to working with our community partners to end homelessness in Santa Clarita and helping the most vulnerable members of our City. Last year, the City Council created a Homeless Ad Hoc Committee that meets quarterly to examine and address homelessness locally on a comprehensive level. We are thankful for our community partners, which include non-profit and religious organizations, because they do so much for these individuals and families every single day. City staff also regularly meets with groups like Bridge to Home and Family Promise to assess the effectiveness of our resources and programs. The Homeless Count is a crucial piece of this puzzle.
We rely on our volunteers to help make the Homeless Count successful year after year. Again, the event this year will take place on Tuesday, January 23 and volunteers will meet at each of the two sites at 7 p.m. You can learn more about the Homeless Count and register to assist us at TheyCountWillYou.org.
If you have any questions about the 2018 Homeless Count or want to find more ways that you can donate your time, please contact LAHSA at 213-683-3333 or send an email to [email protected].
Cameron Smyth is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at [email protected].