By Emily Vaughn Henry
The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is around the corner. It will span three days, from Tuesday, January 24 to Thursday, January 26, and it presents an opportunity to reflect on the life-saving impact of our collective investments, the challenges we continue to tackle together, and the humanity of the homelessness crisis. Please join us in a neighborhood near you. You can find a location at theycountwillyou.org.
Our work together creates the most important resource for understanding the scope and nature of homelessness in Los Angeles County. The 2022 Count revealed that 69,144 Los Angeles County residents experience homelessness on any given night. This followed a year when LAHSA and our community partners made 21,213 permanent housing placements. The increase in homelessness appeared to slow last year, but people continue to fall into homelessness faster than our system can move them out.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, (LAHSA) and our community partners perform the nation’s largest annual Point-In-Time Homeless Count, across 4,000 square miles. Data experts at USC help design the Count with guidance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to create an accurate census of unhoused people living in our region.
Lessons learned from last year, best practices from previous years, and community requests for greater transparency in our process have all led to improved deployment sites, training, and digital tools for the 2023 Homeless Count:
● We’re hiring a demographer and data scientist to help optimize the process
● We’re simplifying our volunteer training and offering it both in-person and online
● We’re replacing the counting app used in 2022 with one built by a new vendor with years of experience developing apps for Homeless Counts across the country, allowing volunteers to see their data submissions in the app and deployment site leads to access a real-time dashboard
● We’ve developed a quality assurance process that includes LAHSA staff at each deployment site, backup paper maps and tally sheets, and data collection from volunteers who do not use the app to ensure inclusion in the final count
● We’ll consider any tracts with missing data to be considered uncounted, and we’ll deploy make-up teams to ensure an accurate count.
Our community volunteers are essential to making the Homeless Count a success. In addition to volunteering for the Count, here’s how you can help reduce homelessness in LA:
● Advocate for more housing in your community. Sign up for United Way’s Everyone In campaign (www.everyoneinla.org) to support the construction and preservation of affordable housing in your neighborhood.
● Connect with a service provider in your neighborhood to find out what resources they need – they might need volunteer time or donations. Find out who your local provider is at lahsa.org/get-involved.
● Educate yourself and others about the facts driving homelessness. The true drivers of homelessness are economic forces and a lack of support networks. Learn more about what causes homelessness and how we address it on our website.
● Connect your neighbors experiencing homelessness to outreach services. Use the LA Homeless Outreach Portal (LA-HOP) (www.https://www.lahsa.org/portal/apps/la-hop/) to notify trained outreach workers about people experiencing homelessness in your neighborhood who need support and assistance.
Emily Vaughn Henry is the Deputy Chief Information Officer for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority known as LAHSA.