Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

The three-day effort to count homeless people in much of Los Angeles County concluded with volunteers fanning out throughout South Los Angeles, Hollywood and downtown Los Angeles.

A morning count took place in the Antelope Valley.

The count was organized by the city- and county-run Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. The tally included most of Los Angeles County, with Long Beach, Glendale and Pasadena under different jurisdictions.

The count is an effort to “put a face on who the homeless are and paint a picture about the state of homelessness,” Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority spokeswoman Naomi Goldman said.

This year, the authority hoped to cover as much as 95 percent of the census tracts, according to Goldman, Thursday.

The data gathered is used to help the authority request and allocate funding for homeless services, she said.

Past homeless counts have yielded demographics on the number of people who are chronically homeless, victims of domestic violence or sufferers of mental illness, and whether they are single, part of a family or an unaccompanied minor.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has been conducting the count on a biannual basis since 2005.

This year’s count was conducted earlier than usual thanks to funding from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and marks “the first year of what is hoped to be an annual count,” Goldman said.

The area covered by three-day homeless count, officially known as the Los Angeles Continuum of Care, had the nation’s second-largest amount of homeless people according to the 2015 count, 41,174, and the second-largest percentage of unsheltered homeless people, 70.3 percent, among major cities’ continuums of care.

The New York City Continuum of Care had the largest number of homeless people, 75,323, while the San Jose/Santa Clara City and County Continuum of Care had the largest percentage of unsheltered homeless people, 70.6 percent, among major cities’ continuums of care, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2015 annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.

The rate of unsheltered homeless people in the New York City Continuum of Care was 4.2 percent, the fifth lowest among major cities’ continuums of care. The Boston Continuum of Care had the lowest rate, 2.1 percent.

A continuum of care is the local planning body responsible for coordinating the full range of homelessness services in a geographic area.

“The homeless count isn’t about numbers, it’s about people,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “It isn’t about statistics, it’s about our promise to lift up those who have been left behind.

“In the streets tonight, I saw an outpouring of support by Angelenos from all walks of life. Their generosity and compassion is going to help us eradicate homelessness and will create a ripple effect for years to come.”

—City News Service

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