Co-president of the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness Sharon Kilbride spoke to the Palisades Rotary Club on Tuesday and detailed the number of homeless that the nonprofit volunteer group had counted during the annual Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Count that was done in February.
That count, released by LAHSA on September 8, has come under city-wide scrutiny (“Los Angeles Homeless Count Raises Doubt about Accuracy. Is It Time for a New Way?” L.A. Times September 24.)
According to the Times, “those with knowledge of Venice were incredulous. LAHSA said there were no unsheltered people — no tents, no inhabited cars or RVs and no people living outdoors — in the northwest quarter of Venice, which is notorious as ground zero for homelessness.”
LAHSA’s communication director said, “During the Count, we received several reports of user and technological errors resulting from a lack of training and poor internet connectivity. Despite these errors, we are confident in the accuracy of this year’s homeless Count because LAHSA and its partners took several steps to account for what was happening in the field.”
This year, for the first-time, all volunteers were given an app to use on cell phones to record the number of people counted.
This editor participated in the count, and with three other volunteers went down Temescal Canyon and along Pacific Coast Highway to Sunset. On several occasions, that information did not go through on the app. Palisades volunteers scouring the hillsides and Highlands are well-aware of cellular transmission issues in this area.
Volunteers were also asked by the PPTFH to record numbers on paper, so there was a backup of locations and the count, which has led to certainty here about the number of homeless.
“There was no change in the homeless count in Pacific Palisades since 2020,” Kilbride said, but noted that there was an increase in the cars along PCH.
When doing the homeless count, it is often hard to tell if a car/RV contains a homeless person, or someone, a surfer, for instance, just parked for the night. During Covid, all parking enforcement was put on hold, which could have been one of the reasons for the increased number of people sleeping in cars along PCH.
JANUARY 1 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30
Through September 30, the PPTFH have offered services to 452 homeless, which includes a kit and bars. “Most people want the goodies, but don’t want the help,” Kilbride said, regretfully.
She noted that it was only with Los Angele Police Department’s help has the organization been able to accomplish as much as they have. She also gave a shout out to the two social workers, Glanda and Jesse, for their constant efforts to engage the homeless.
During this time frame, the PPTFH volunteers have cleaned up 262 abandoned camps in the Palisades and engaged 95 new vehicles dwellers.
They helped six individuals that needed to be hospitalized. Volunteers saw a warming fire and called LAFD. Firefighters put out the fire. Volunteers have found 45 areas where there has been fire activity.
To date, the PPTFH has helped 162 people off the street with 104 going into permanent housing. They currently have eight outstanding vouchers to help people get housing.
“We have three people who have lived on the street here more than a year and are service resistant,” Kilbride said. “We have three people in vehicles, who are service resistant.”
The PPTFH has raised enough money to hire a clinical case manager, which will help those with the mental health issues, but so far have not been able to fill the position.
Kilbride said there are three young men, who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but don’t want to take their meds. They have returned to this area, where they grew up, and PPTFH is trying to work with them.
The PPTFH has 43-volunteers and because of its success, is now being duplicated in other communities, such as Malibu and Westwood.
On November 14, the PPTFH community meeting will focus on “success stories,” those that have been housed. To volunteer or donate, visit: Palisadeshomeless.org.