County aims to make improvements on annual homeless count 

Bridge to Home clinical supervisor Tyson Pursley, seated, goes over the map of Santa Clarita with a group of volunteers from the Department of Mental Health as they prepare for the 2024 Homeless Count at the City of Santa Clarita Activities Center in Santa Clarita on Tuesday, 012324. Dan Watson/The Signal
Bridge to Home clinical supervisor Tyson Pursley, seated, goes over the map of Santa Clarita with a group of volunteers from the Department of Mental Health as they prepare for the 2024 Homeless Count at the City of Santa Clarita Activities Center in Santa Clarita on Tuesday, 012324. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved making changes to the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count as well as a settlement regarding a 2019 traffic collision in Saugus involving a sheriff’s deputy. 

Both items were approved via the board’s consent calendar. 

Improving the homeless count 

The homeless count is done every year and is organized by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. This year’s count was taken in January over the course of three days, with volunteers going around to get as accurate of a point-in-time count as possible. 

The motion directs LAHSA to report back in 45 days with “a summary of the challenges faced in the 2024 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. This summary should include feedback from deployment site leads, volunteers, and LAHSA staff who participated in the count.” 

After that, another report after 90 days is requested with a roadmap for resolving those issues, and then reports every other month thereafter to update the board on what is being done to improve next year’s count. 

According to the motion, co-authored by Supervisors Lindsey Horvath, 3rd District, and Hilda Solis, 1st District, the mobile app used for the count did not always work as intended, with some volunteers forced to use paper tallies. 

“The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is LAHSA’s primary public-facing event,” the motion reads. “It is important that volunteers for the point-in-time count have a positive experience so that they can return for future years to support this massive undertaking. Therefore, the Board of Supervisors should take action to improve future point-in-time counts to ensure an accurate count and provide a more positive volunteer experience.” 

More than 50 people volunteered for the count in Santa Clarita, with a couple of volunteers telling The Signal that, while the count is important, the process to get the most accurate count could be better. 

This directive comes after the board approved a $783 million spending plan at Tuesday’s meeting for the L.A. County Homeless Initiative for the 2024-25 fiscal year. 

The plan includes $662.3 million for homelessness prevention, outreach, interim housing, permanent housing, and supportive services – all considered to be essential elements of the homeless services system – plus an additional $120.7 million to support Pathway Home and other projects necessary to scale up and fast-track the county’s homelessness emergency response, according to a county news release. 

“Pathway Home leverages emergency powers and partnerships with local jurisdictions to bring people out of encampments and into immediately available interim housing accompanied by a comprehensive suite of supportive services and, ultimately, into safe, permanent homes,” the release states. 

The plan will be funded through an anticipated $587.2 million in anticipated voter-approved tax revenue; $140 million in county funds; and $55.8 million in grants, according to the release. 

“With this spending plan, we are putting more resources than ever before into helping people in encampments move indoors equipped with support services so they can stay housed, and urgently increasing our supply of housing,” 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley, said in the release. “I’m pleased the plan also increases our county’s support of cities’ local efforts to address homelessness, just as the Blue Ribbon Commission on Homelessness recommended.” 

Settlement approved 

An $800,000 settlement was approved by the board on Tuesday regarding a traffic collision involving an SCV sheriff’s deputy that allegedly caused significant injuries to the plaintiff. 

According to the summary corrective action plan, the deputy was responding to a call with flashing lights to indicate an emergency response on Jan. 20, 2019. The deputy was traveling northbound on Bouquet Canyon Road and crossed a red light at the intersection at Espuella Drive, with the plaintiffs’ Ford F-150 truck being struck in the process. 

The plaintiffs reported that they did not hear the emergency siren or see the emergency lights due to the windows of the truck being rolled up. 

L.A. County Fire Department personnel reported that one of the plaintiffs was transported to a local hospital following the collision. 

An investigation determined that the deputy was at fault due to crossing a red traffic signal and failing to drive an emergency vehicle with due regard for the safety of others on a highway. 

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