Documenting the Crisis of Homelessness

Participating in the nation’s largest census of homeless people, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas walked the streets of Leimert Park and North Hollywood to observe firsthand what he has called the defining civic crisis of our time.

He joined an estimated 6,000 volunteers who spread out across 4,000 square miles over three bitterly cold nights to conduct the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count on January 24-26.

A homeless encampment in Leimert Park. (Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors)

A homeless encampment in Leimert Park. (Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors)

Talking to Homeless Count volunteers in Leimert Park (Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors)

Led by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), volunteers looked under bridges, in alleys, at makeshift encampments and other locations to find out where the homeless live. They also conducted demographic surveys to determine how many among the homeless are veterans, youth aging out of the foster care system, people with physical or mental disabilities, and other subgroups with special needs.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, along with Mayor Eric Garcetti, Controller Ron Galperin, LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn and Commission Chair Wendy Greuel, and LA Family Housing President & CEO Stephanie Klasky-Gamer kicked off the census in the San Fernando Valley, which has seen a tremendous increase in its homeless population.

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Participating in the Homeless Count at North Hollywood. (Photo by Martin Zamora/Board of Supervisors)

Just before volunteers began the Count in North Hollywood, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas exhorted them to support Proposition H on the March 7 ballot. If approved by voters, the initiative would cost the average consumer little more than a dollar a month while investing $350 million annually over a decade on proven solutions for preventing and ending homelessness.

“Yes on H!” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas told volunteers. “Walk tonight, vote tomorrow.” He expressed particular concern over the 55 percent increase in the number of homeless women countywide between 2013 and 2016.

On the third and last day of the Count, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas again joined volunteers, this time in Leimert Park. He documented people living in tents and trailers, and under tarps hung on tree branches.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas participates in the 2017 Homeless Count in Leimert Park.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas participates in the 2017 Homeless Count in Leimert Park.

The Count will provide an accurate picture of the state of homelessness countywide, and guide the delivery of programs and services to where they are most needed. During the demographic surveys, outreach teams directly connected the homeless individuals and families that they encountered to local service providers for assistance.

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Walking with volunteers in Leimert Park to document the homeless. (Photo by Diandra Jay/Board of Supervisors)

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