Los Angeles County will resume its annual homeless count in full a year after it was limited over concerns that it couldn’t be done safely or accurately during the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Thursday.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is seeking volunteers to help during the tally’s main component, the unsheltered street count. It will take place Jan. 25-27.
“We are excited to conduct the 2022 unsheltered count. It is an essential component in getting vital information that helps us provide an accurate picture of the state of homelessness in Los Angeles and deliver services where they are most needed,” LAHSA Executive Director Heidi Marston said in a statement.
Congress requires such counts every two years and uses the information to distribute resources for homeless services.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development granted an exemption in 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak and kept federal funding in place.
The count will proceed this year with COVID-19 precautions, including outdoor distribution of materials and requirements that volunteers wear masks and maintain social distance, LAHSA said.
LAHSA, a joint city and county authority, is the lead agency in coordinating federal, state and local funding to help the homeless. In recent years, as homelessness has grown, the agency has done the count nearly every year over several days each January. Thousands of volunteers fan out to count tents, RVs and cars housing people throughout the region.
The 2020 count estimated the county’s homeless population at more than 66,000. Nearly three-quarters were living in makeshift shelters such as tents or cars.