Left to right: Jeb Paulson, Nick Antonicello, Matt Royce, Will Hawkins, and Sunny Bak were in for the count.
by Kelly Layne
On a chilly Wednesday night in Venice last week, community volunteers warmed hearts as they came out to support the annual Homeless Count.
Over 50 volunteers gathered at the Venice Community Housing Corporation (VCHC) in the evening on January 25th to divide and conquer the Venice-specific homeless count. In teams of three to four, neighbors set out to quantify the reality of those living on the streets.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LASHA) began coordinating biennial counts in 2005 that are now well-established annual “Point-in-Time” counts throughout the city.
The count is invaluable for helping to collect data that will ultimately contribute to the end of homelessness. LASHA says “All across Los Angeles, every January, we embark on a three-day mission to count our homeless neighbors. From these efforts, and thanks to our caring communities, we don’t have to accept homelessness as an unsolvable problem.”
LASHA was created in 1993 to address the problem of homelessness and is a joint powers authority of the City and County of Los Angeles. It is responsible for funding and coordination of homeless services and housing assistance to support the homeless population of men, women, and children in the City and County of Los Angeles.
Locally, the Venice Community Housing Corporation is an organization and resource for the Venice homeless community. Development Director, Mynra Bohan, said they are thrilled to serve as a homeless count partner and hosting agency year after year, as the count is as important for them as it is for the city and LASHA. It helps them with their annual projections to do the work they do, and they love spearheading community volunteers.
The impressive turn out on Wednesday night was a reminder of the camaraderie that exists in Venice. From city officials to VCHC founder Steve Claire to Venice Neighborhood Council (VNC) Homeless Committee members to homeowners and neighbors alike.
Sunny Bak is President of the Venice Art Crawl, Vice President of Chamber of Commerce, and a VNC Homeless Committee member. She said she thought it was important to participate in the count as a member of the Homeless Committee so she could see first hand how many are homeless, who they are, and what’s happening out on the streets. Bak said that almost all of the Homeless Committee members came out to support and they hadn’t even planned it. Together, they set out on a mission to tackle their territory and didn’t head home until the work was done.
The result of this year’s citywide count is expected to be in around May. In 2016, the total number of homeless in Council District 11 was 2,529. A breakdown of the citywide numbers from last year’s count is online at www.lahsa.org/homeless-count/reports.
To learn more about LASHA go to www.lahsa.org/about and to see what the Venice Community Housing Corporation is up to, and to get involved, visit their website at www.vchcorp.org/about-us.