Courtesy photo

Count: Santa Monica will hold its annual Homeless Count tonight and the City remains in critical need of pre-formed volunteer teams of 3 – 4. If you have a pre-formed team, register at https://www.santamonica.gov/santa-monica-homeless-count and learn more about requirements. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s event will look different. Volunteer teams will be deployed fully from their cars and need to pre-register their team of 3-4 individuals. Teams will be directed to a drive-through check-in where all team members will be asked for vaccine verification and completed waivers before being assigned to a Count area and receive Count materials. Los Angeles County resumed its annual homeless count yesterday, a full year after it was limited over concerns that it couldn’t be done safely or accurately during the coronavirus pandemic.

Volunteers with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority fanned out across the county for the effort’s main component, the unsheltered street tally. The so-called “point-in-time” count will take place over three days. “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 is proceeding this year with COVID-19 precautions, including outdoor distribution of materials and requirements that volunteers wear masks and maintain social distance, LAHSA said. The results of the tally are expected to be released in late May or early June. The 2020 count reported more than 66,400 people were homeless in the county, a 13% increase from the previous year.