“There is no safe way to gather the 8,000 volunteers necessary,” LAHSA says
By Sam Catanzaro
The federal government has given LA County permission to skip the 2021 homeless count over COVID-19 safety concerns.
On December 9, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) said the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) can skip the 2021 homeless count. Congress mandates such counts every two years in an attempt to evenly distribute resources for homeless services.
According to the County, LAHSA’s request for an exemption for the 2021 homeless count was done in order to protect the health and safety of unhoused individuals, staff, volunteers and service providers.
“There is no safe way to gather the 8,000 volunteers necessary,” LAHSA said about the prospect of holding the count which sees thousands of volunteers coming out for one night to count the homeless population across the county.
“Moving ahead with the annual Point-in-Time counts of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness would be a risky and challenging activity at best and a dangerous, superspreader event in the worst-case scenario, quickly infecting a high number of people with a very contagious and deadly disease,” said Chair of the County Board of Supervisors Hilda L. Solis.
LAHSA still will count individuals living at shelters and record the number of beds and units available to homeless people.
The 2020 count showed 66,436 people in Los Angeles County experiencing homelessness, a 12.7 percent rise from the previous year’s point-in-time count. In LA City Council District 11 (which includes Venice), where a similar increase was experienced, there were 3,165 homeless individuals, only 108 of whom were in shelters, according to the count. The majority of the district’s homeless population was in Venice the count showed, with 1,685 unhoused individuals.