January Homeless Count Is Cancelled in Los Angeles County Because of the Pandemic

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This homeless individual was found sleeping on the sidewalk on December 9 in front of Bank of America in the early morning.

 

Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness (PPTFH) Board member Kim Clary attended a December 4 virtual meeting of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) Commission to discuss the January 2021 Point in Time Homeless Count.

The count has been held in Pacific Palisades for the past five years, and the first County count was held in 2005. Initially, the count was to be held every two years. LAHSA reported an estimated 82,000 homeless in 2005, and about 43,000 homeless (in L.A. County) in 2009. About 4,000 were living in Skid Row, downtown.

In January 2020, LAHSA reported that 66,436 people were homeless in L.A. County, and that the Skid Row homeless population was 4,662.

Clary said in a December 6 email to Circling the News, “The Commission members voted not to conduct the 2021 street count of ‘unsheltered homeless individuals’ due to the pandemic.”

According to a September 4 ABC story (“L.A. County’s Homeless Seeing Lower Covid-19 Rates than Overall Population”), “People experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County are testing positive for the coronavirus at rates far lower than the population at large.

“The positive rate among LA County’s homeless is less than 2%. The county’s most recent test positivity rate in general is now 4.6%, though in the past it has gotten close to 10%.

“A top health official says fears about rapid spread among those who live in shelters and on the streets did not come true.

“A leading homeless advocate believes the low rates are because a majority of the county’s homeless live outside.”

The LAHSA voted on December 4 after reviewing regulations from the U.S. Department of HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and the DPH (Department of Public Health), as well as input from the LAHSA partners who organize and carry out the count.

HUD establishes mandatory requirements across the nation for the count and the count of “sheltered” homeless individuals is still required and a housing inventory count must still be done. However, HUD gave options for executing the street count of unsheltered homeless individuals, one of which was to forego it completely.

“Given that LAHSA has been told by the DPH that street counting would be dangerous for the public health and given that many of their partners did not feel they could safely conduct the count this year, the Commissioners reluctantly voted not to execute the street count for January 2021,” Clary said. “LAHSA stated that HUD’s funding will remain intact for Los Angeles, and, with the new administration, may even be increased.”

PPTFH Co-President Sharon Kilbride said, “PPTFH, with its First Responder team and outreach workers from The People Concern, are in a unique position to know how many homeless individuals are residing or passing through Pacific Palisades.

“There has been a large increase over the past few months of homeless individuals coming to town, but many don’t stay,” Kilbride said. “PPTFH’s important work continues whether or not a count is completed.”

Captain Tom spoke to those who volunteered to count the Homeless at the annual count in 2019. PPTFH member Kim Cleary (left) helps organize the event.

 

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