The 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count began Tuesday, with millions of dollars in federal and state funding depending on the final count number, as well as contributing to the next steps in developing homeless initiatives. Homeless Mayor Karen Bass.
The count, generally conducted annually each January by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), came to 66,436 homeless countywide in 2020was canceled in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, then counted 69,144 homeless in Los Angeles County in 2022, with 41,980 being a county in the city of Los Angeles alone. The rise in homelessness in recent years, attributed to a higher cost of living, post-COVID complications, and economic concerns, has been predicted by many to rise again this year due to worsening cost of living and issues of affordable housing, housing COVID funding deadlines are approaching and end of eviction moratoriums. LAHSA officials even noted that the count could be significantly higher in the coming years due to these factors.
Because homelessness is a lagging indicator, future homeless counts may show significant increases,” LAHSA Co-Executive Director Kristina Dixon said Monday.
For the city of Los Angeles, the count will not only help determine how much state and federal funding will go to Los Angeles in the near future, but it will also determine where the city will go next to get rid of homeless people in the city. . After Mayor Bass is inaugurated as mayor last month, she has made homelessness her top priority in Los Angeles. In just over a month as mayor, Bass declared the city’s homeless situation a state of emergency, started the Inside Safe program to clear encampments and place the homeless in motels (to the chagrin of many homeowners), as well as multiple other programs aimed at sheltering and removing the homeless from the streets.
While his overall plan aims to significantly reduce homelessness over the decade and the almost stated goal of significantly reducing it in time for the 2028 Olympics, Bass’ the plan has already run into many obstacles, and his early actions are unlikely to reduce the significant number of homeless people being counted this week. Now, with all eyes on the count, LAHSA will conduct a coordinated count over the next several days, including the homeless count in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys on Tuesday, West Los Angeles, and East Los Angeles. on Wednesday and Thursday in South Los Angeles. , Central City and the Antelope Valley.
“We want to make sure we have the most accurate count,” LAHSA commission chair Wendy Greuel said Tuesday. “Often our funding is determined by the count, where we know exactly what kind of services are needed, in what geographic area. So it’s a very important number. We never really know what’s going to happen.”
Regardless of the final tally, many homeless service workers remain skeptical about what the funding could bring, noting short-term, “band-aid” solutions are being used instead of a longer-term approach.
“The ideal system would be a series of steps,” “Regina,” a homeless services worker in southern California, told the Globe on Tuesday. “First you need to determine if they need housing now. Then with temporary shelter, you have to see if they can work, if they can’t work, or if they need help first because of medical problems, mental problems, or other things like drug use. Once you determine they can work, put them in job training or job search. After that, make sure they have all the skills they need to live on their own, then get them permanent housing. It can take a while, sometimes many years, and it’s easier said than done, and you need to back it all up with financing and housing, but it’s been found to be the best system in the US. We’re not like the UK, where people can live on benefits for years, but we’re not a third world country where we leave you in the lurch either.
“This tally will tell us how much better or worse the problem is, and it will also help shore up funding, but on tally days no one is really happy. We hope to get more funding, but we all know it will take time, and what usually goes is for short-term or emergency housing and not anything else that is needed.”
The Count is expected to continue through Thursday, with a final count expected soon after.