Los Angeles Homeless Services Associate Director of Homeless Services Victor Hinderliter, left, and Jennifer Del Toro of the City of Santa Clarita look at a map of Santa Clarita as they prepare for the 2017 Point-In-Time Homeless Count at The Center at the City of Santa Clarita's Activities Center in Santa Clarita on Tuesday evening. Dan Watson/The Signal

Volunteers sought for 2019 homeless count in SCV

As part of the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, the Santa Clarita Valley will need volunteers within the next two weeks to help count the homeless population in the area, the city announced Monday.

“It is extremely important that our city receive(s) the resources necessary to help our homeless population,” Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean said in a prepared statement. “Therefore, I encourage anyone who can spare some time to volunteer for this important count.”

Since 2005, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has organized, in 85 cities and unincorporated areas of the county, a point-in-time count, which is an unduplicated count of sheltered and unsheltered individuals facing homelessness conducted from Jan. 22 through 24.

Count results — used by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the county — determine the amount of funds that would be allocated to local homeless programs, such as the SCV’s Bridge to Home shelter.

Out of the 45,043 homeless individuals and families counted in the county, 161 were identified living in Santa Clarita for the 2018 count and 331 in 2017, but many have challenged those figures, saying the actual number for the SCV is more than double.

Other cities within L.A. County have also expressed count discrepancies, but LAHSA returns and analyzes data closely, according to Tom Waldman, the organization’s director of communications.

“We have heard from other cities who feel that the count is not an accurate representation,” he said. “It’s important to remember that it’s a point-in-time-count, one conducted on a particular night. If a city feels that our count is inaccurate, we go back and look at the numbers closely.”

Jerrid McKenna, assistant to the Santa Clarita city manager, said, “We’re just a city that participates to get a consistent count. We don’t have control of (LAHSA’s) methodology, so we brought in UCLA grad students to look at the issue more locally.”

In November, five students of the university’s School of Public Policy introduced their capstone project of developing a model of measurement Santa Clarita could use, additionally, for a homeless count. The students plan on presenting their findings in March and LAHSA expects to release city-by-city data after May.

The SCV’s count is scheduled for Jan. 22, with training at 7 p.m and the count starting at 8 p.m. Volunteers, who must be at least 18 years of age, will be assigned to report to one of two sites for training: The Centre, located at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway, or American Legion Post 507, located at 24522 Spruce St.

Once paired into teams, participants will drive to designated areas with the SCV to conduct visual tallies. The time commitment is roughly three to four hours, according to the city’s news release. To register, visit theycountwillyou.org.

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