Volunteers Needed to Help Count the Homeless

Los Angeles County has the highest population of people living on the streets in the nation, with more than 52,000 men, women and children who have no permanent shelter or place to call home. Although homelessness is an issue all throughout the county, the Second District is the epicenter of the problem, with 43 percent of the county’s total homeless population.

People desperate for shelter huddle in their cars; families camp out in parking lots or in RVs along streets. Libraries, do double duty, serving both as centers of learning, but also shelter from wind and rain for those with nowhere else to go. In Athens, families have shared living space with livestock, setting up in horse stables, and children have been found living in unconscionable conditions, including a six-month-old baby, who, along with the mother, was living in Lawndale’s Alondra Park.

While the Second District has increased its resources by building nearly 30 new permanent supportive housing units for the homeless in the past 3 years, including one on 28th Street in the historic YMCA building and the Star Apartments downtown, the need remains enormous.

On January 31, there is a chance to help. Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas is asking for volunteers join him and turnout for the biennial Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s Homeless Count. The count is a crucial component not only in determining how many people in our midst are without shelter, but it is an essential tool used to the appropriate services and assistance.

“We don’t have to accept homelessness as an unsolvable problem,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “With your help we can find homeless men, women and children and let them know they are not invisible.”

Every two years, volunteers with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), go out into the county to gather on-the-ground data on homelessness. By knowing who and where homeless people are, the county is better able to plan and identify resources to provide vital services, and ultimately move families and individuals into housing. The homeless count helps to determine the area’s need for housing, shelter and service programs to receive funding from the federal government. This need is particularly urgent for the Second District.

Volunteers can go to http://volunteer.theycountwillyou.org/ to create an account to officially register to be a volunteer for the Count which will be taking place:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 (8PM) – San Gabriel Valley, East/Southeast Los Angeles
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 (8PM) – West Los Angeles, South Bay
Thursday, January 31, 2013 (6AM) – Antelope Valley
Thursday, January 31, 2013 (8PM) –Metro Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, & Santa Clarita Valley