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2018 Homeless Count in Santa Monica and Los Angeles County Starts
By Niki Cervantes
January 24, 2018 – Volunteers in Santa Monica will fan out tonight to scan for people living in the streets, on the beach, in parks and other public spaces and in shelters as the 2018 homeless count gets underway.
The count will determine if the City’s homeless population is continuing to rise, after jumping 26 percent in 2017 to total 921 people, the largest number of homeless people in a decade ("Santa Monica's Homeless Population Highest in a Decade," May 10, 2017).
An annual ritual across the nation during the last week of January, the homeless count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to determine the amount of federal funds allocated for the issue.
For Santa Monica and all Southern California cities, the multiple homeless counts being conducted now come on the heels of a year that saw some large increases.
The 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count found 57,794 homeless people, a 23 percent rise.
Slightly under 15,000 of homeless people had secured space in shelters -- an increase of the previous year but not enough to keep up with needs of a mushrooming homeless population in total.
Metro L.A. had the largest concentration of the homeless, but the figures showed the population was migrating outward in double-digit increases to places like the Antelope and San Gabriel Valley, or jumps of 50 percent and 31 percent respectively.
West L.A. experienced an18 percent jump, for a total of 5,511 homeless people.
Los Angeles County’s count started Tuesday in the San Fernando, Santa Clarita and San Gabriel Valleys; continued today in the South Bay/Harbor Cities and East and West Los Angeles County, and ends Thursday with the Antelope Valley, Metro Los Angeles, & South Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles County has increased funding for temporary and more permanent housing for the homeless with two ballot measures approved last year.
Measure H, approved countywide in a March vote, raises an estimated $355 million annually for 10 years before expiring to help the homeless and try to prevent homelessness.
A portion of the money also will help pay for the supportive services for chronically homeless people who are slated to live in thousands of units to be built in Los Angeles City as the result of the passage of Proposition HHH, a $1.2-billion bond measure L.A. voters approved earlier in the year.
But County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who represents Santa Monica, said the count is vital to tackle to problem appropriately.
“Our solutions are only as good as our information,” she said.
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