As almost every Angeleno knows by now, homelessness is one of the most serious issues confronting our city. And one thing that makes the issue so complicated is that it’s hard to plan for or provide services to people you can’t see or count…and people without homes are often the most mobile and invisible of the city’s residents.
This is why, once a year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) recruits thousands of volunteers to perform a coordinated census of the homeless throughout Los Angeles County. This year, the 2018 Homeless Count will be conducted throughout the county from January 23-25, and in the city of Los Angeles on Thursday, January 25.
According to city officials, “The Count is essential to LAHSA’s work of ending homelessness and provides invaluable information on what services and programs are needed, where they are needed, and how best to deploy our resources. But they can’t do it without thousands of volunteers fanning out in every Census tract in LA County to help us collect the information we need.”
At least, 8,000 volunteers are needed county-wide, with at least 1,000 needed in Metro LA, and at least 55 in our Greater Wilshire area (and more in the adjacent Mid-City West Community Council area), to cover all of our local census tracts. The event takes place from 8 to 11 p.m. on Thursday. Greater Wilshire volunteers will gather in the community meeting room at Hope Lutheran Church, 6720 Melrose Ave., at 8 p.m. (volunteers are also welcome to bring friends to be on their teams). The training begins at 8, and then each team will be assigned a census tract to walk or drive, looking for people experiencing homelessness. Volunteers will count the people they see, while keeping a respectful distance, and then return to the deployment site to turn in the results.
Also, both before, during and after the event, office volunteers are needed at LAHSA headquarters to make phone calls to recruit volunteers, help with data entry and provide support.
Here are a few additional Frequently Asked Questions:
Why do we do the Count?
To get the official statistics of what homelessness looks like in our community. These are then used to bring needed services and housing to our area.
Why is it conducted every year?
To see the trends and understand the progress we aremaking in ending homelessness.
How will I know what to do that night?
You will be fully trained and provided with the materials you’ll need.
How old do I have to be?
All volunteers need to be at least 18 years old to participate in this activity.
How long will it take?
About 3 hours or less
For more information, or to sign up to help on Thursday in the Greater Wilshire area, please visit http://www.theycountwillyou.org/greaterwilshire18, or contact Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council Secretary Joe Hoffman at [email protected]. In the Miracle Mile/Mid-City West area, see http://www.theycountwillyou.org/midcitywest18.