Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez proposed an expansion of the 2020 Census Tuesday to count as many homeless people as possible in order to get more assistance from the federal and state governments to address the city’s homelessness crisis.
Rodriguez said Los Angeles is home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation, and an undercount can cost the city millions of dollars in public safety and federal funding for homeless services and beyond.
“All Angelenos, regardless of housing status, deserve to be counted in the US 2020 Census,” Rodriguez said. “An undercount threatens the critical resources our community needs for public safety, housing and city services.”
Her motion would direct the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to have workers engage in census outreach to Angelenos experiencing homelessness.
Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau has two approaches for counting homeless individuals: sending census workers to service-based locations, like shelters and mobile food vans, and counting people in non-sheltered, outdoor locations, according to Rodriguez.
The Census Bureau coordinates with LAHSA, the county and the city to identify key locations for outreach, Rodriguez said, but the bureau plans to devote three days to counting homeless people across the country.
Rodriguez said with such a brief timeframe and limited resources, Los Angeles should demand that the census be expanded to make sure as many homeless Angelenos are counted as possible.
The councilwoman is also working to expand census outreach to historically undercounted areas in Los Angeles, with particular focus on the Northeast San Fernando Valley.