As it does every year, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council will be partnering with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority for the annual count of homeless individuals in our neighborhood. This year, the count – which takes place on a single night each January – will be held on Thursday, January 23, from 8-11:30 p.m.
According to Tammy Rosato, the GWNC’s Homelessness Liaison, the count is of critical importance because it helps target resources and solutions for those living without homes in our neighbohood. And it can’t be done without community volunteers, who can help in many different ways. According to LAHSA:
There are many volunteer roles available to help make the Homeless Count a success.
Street Count volunteers serve as counters, drivers, and navigators. The roles are assigned when volunteers report to their deployment sites on the nights of the Count. After receiving training and materials, volunteers are deployed in groups of 2-4 to count specific blocks in an area. Each position is outside counting for up to four hours. To sign up for the Street Count, visit TheyCountWillYou.org/Volunteer.
Office volunteers make phone calls to recruit volunteers, help with data entry, and provide support at LAHSA headquarters. You can serve as an office volunteer between December 17 and January 21.
Once again, this year’s Greater Wilshire count will be headquartered at Hope Lutheran Church, 6720 Melrose Ave., and free parking is available.
Rosato says about 50 volunteers are needed, and the count will be done visually, census tract by census tract, with no street outreach. Volunteers can typically expect to contribute 2-3 hours of their time on the night of the count.
“I would compare the importance of the Homeless Count to the Census,” said Rosato. “It is critical for allocating resources for each Service Planning Area in each community.” And this is particularly true in Greater Wilshire, she said, because we are part of LAHSA’s Metro Service Planning Area 4, which includes Skid Row, Downtown LA, Boyle Heights, Hollywood, Midtown and Silverlake, some of which are home to the city’s largest numbers of unhoused residents, and thus receive the lion’s share of resources.
“As you know,” said Rosato, “most shelters are located in the Downtown LA area. If a bed is available, and if the person experiencing homelessness is open to service, asking them to relocate Downtown or near Skid Row is a daunting challenge.” So learning more about how homeless individuals are distributed throughout our part of the city is the first step in getting services distributed appropriately too. And doing that starts with the annual count…and volunteers like you.
More information and a simple local sign-up sheet are available at https://www.theycountwillyou.org/greater_wilshire_count_20200123