Volunteers Instructed to Count Homeless: But Not THERE

The three social workers funded by this community, joined police and volunteers at 5 a.m. before being assigned routes in Pacific Palisades to count the homeless.

Most people know where the homeless are in Pacific Palisades, which is generally on or near the beach or living as car dwellers parked along PCH overlooking the ocean.

This year during the annual homeless count, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), told volunteers not to go THERE, even though volunteers have counted that area every year since 2015. It always has the highest concentration of homeless.

Volunteers were told that Caltrans would be counting the homeless along the highway and that Rec and Park workers would count people on the beach.

When Circling the News heard that news yesterday, January 23, an email was sent to LAHSA.

CTN asked for verification that Caltrans would count, and the date because that state agency has never participated in the L.A. County homeless count.

Additionally, Will Rogers Beach is a state entity, run by L.A. County Beaches and Harbor, so it made no sense that a City agency would be counting people on the beach.

LAHSA has not responded, but when it does, the story will be updated.

The three-day annual homeless count, run by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) started on January 23 and will continue today and Thursday.

Volunteers assembled at the Corpus Christi gymnasium at 5 a.m. on January 24, to count in Pacific Palisades.

Former PPTFH co-president Sharon Kilbride said at the count this morning “It’s a conundrum that we’re not allowed to count the beaches and the highways for car dwellers. For some reason this year those regions are red lined. This is where our numbers come from, which means are numbers will be low.”

With the inception of PPTFH in 2014, those individuals who are homeless are approached by members of PPTFH and offered services. Individuals are not allowed to camp in very high fire severity zones (after numerous fires were set by the homeless in the brush).

In addition to volunteers, the community raised money to hire two social workers and a clinical case manager, to offer services. Many homeless do not stay because they do not like the attention of being asked if they want services.

The count is different here, because as one volunteer said, “This is the only area in the city where we (Palisades Task Force on Homelessness – PPTFH) know the name of every homeless.”

Kim Cleary, who has organized the count here since it’s inception, is joined by Palisades Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin and Bruce Hensel.

This morning Kim Clary, who has helped organize the count every year since its inception, said she is stepping down. “It’s enough,” she said. “Someone else needs to do it.” She said it has become more problematic with the apps and technology that LAHSA requires, but thanked the help she has this morning with a LAHSA employee on site.

Carol Sanborn, a member of the PPTFH (and the Director Pastoral Ministry at Corpus), supplied healthy muffins and banana bread, for volunteers before they started canvassing the area.

Carol Sanborn made homemade treats for people who volunteered this morning.

But the question everyone was asking was “Why doesn’t LAHSA want volunteers to count the areas that have the highest number of homeless?”

Last year’s count was done in January, but the results, even with volunteers using Apps, were not released until nearly six months later on June 29.

That count according to a press release from LAHSA showed “a 9% rise in homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles County to an estimated 75,518 people and a 10% rise in the City of Los Angeles to an estimated 46,260 people. While this year’s increases are slightly lower than previous year-over-year increases in the homeless count, they continue a steady growth trend of people experiencing homelessness in the annual Point-in-Time Count (PIT).”

This homeless individual found in Pacific Palisades was counted this morning.

Another question people might ask is “the money being spent on the homeless effective?”

In a July 2023 CalMatters story (“Something Is Clearly off with California’s Homelessness Spending”) they noted that “California put aside $7.2 billion to address homelessness in the 2021-22 budget. Last year, there were an estimated 172,000 homeless statewide, which equates to spending nearly $42,000 per homeless person.”

L.A. County Board of Supervisors approved a $532.6-million Homeless Initiative spending plan for fiscal year 2022-23 and about 87 percent of the money came from Measure H, a quarter of a cent sales tax approved by County voters in 2017 to address homelessness.

Mayor Karen Bass, in April 20223, said that of the $13 billion proposed budget $1.3 billion will go to address homelessness.

Proposition HHH, which authorized a $1.2 billion bond, was passed in 2016 and was supposed to create affordable supportive housing for the homeless: the result was about 14% of units cost more than $700,000 each.

This man showed up after the count with his belongings.

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One Response to Volunteers Instructed to Count Homeless: But Not THERE

  1. De says:

    It is sad to see the homeless, but it is a dangerous job to go out in the dark and look for the homeless people. It is always a worry to think of the people who do this job and glad there has been no bad outcome for them.

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