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Santa Monica Preps for Homeless Count


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Santa Monica College
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Santa Monica, CA 90405
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By Jorge Casuso

January 11, 2024 -- When volunteers fan out across Santa Monica this month for the 2024 homeless count, they will comb the streets earlier than usual armed with updated technology.

Santa Monica's homeless census takes place Wednesday, January 24 from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. -- earlier than the 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. schedule used in previous years.

If recent counts are an indication, more than 300 volunteers will comb every street in Santa Monica -- a total of 226 linear miles -- to tally homeless individuals sleeping outdoors, as well as in cars, RVs and tents.

Local shelters, jails, hotels and institutions will also report the number of homeless people under their roof on the night of the count.

When they hit the streets, volunteers will use updated technology to make the count as accurate as possible, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which oversees and organizes the annual countywide count.

For the second year, volunteers will use Esri’s Homeless Point in Time App "to tally the number of people and makeshift dwellings they find during their count," agency officials said.

This year, LAHSA is piloting geofencing within the Point in Time App "to alert volunteers when they have moved outside their assigned census tract’s boundaries."

The agency also is using improved dashboard tracking to determine if a census tract count has been completed or needs to be revisited, LAHSA officials said.

Some of the changes were made after the 2022 census failed to count people living in several areas of the County known to have large homeless populations living on the streets.

The annual countywide census -- which will take place fron January 23 to 25 -- provides the County and local jurisdictions with data used to develop strategies to tackle the growing homeless problem and determine where funding and resources would be most effective.

In Santa Monica, the census results are eagerly awaited by residents and business owners who have expressed alarm by what they see as a burgeoning homeless population contributing to a rise in crime and anti-social behavior.

Last year, a total of 926 individuals were counted in Santa Monica, an overall increase of 15 percent over the 807 homeless persons counted in 2022.

Critics of the census note that Santa Monica's homeless population is highly transient, which makes a head count taken over a four-hour period an unreliable gauge of the true size of the city's homeless population.

Volunteers can register for the Homeless Count at For more information email or call (213) 683-3333.

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