Annual homeless count underway in Los Angeles County

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority officials and volunteers will conduct this year's homeless count starting Tuesday, focusing on the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys.

The effort, known as the point-in-time count or 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, is essential to understanding how large the homeless crisis has become and is required to be conducted by Continuum of Care providers to receive federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"Angelenos are coming together across L.A. County to confront homelessness and the housing crisis because we believe that the future of our homeless brothers and sisters is part of our city's identity," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a video posted to his Twitter page on Sunday. "We want to help them get back on their feet and because we know every single person in this city matters, whether they have a permanent address or not."

At 8 p.m., Garcetti will join LAHSA and several other local government officials at a kick-off event for the homeless count at the North Hollywood Recreation Center, located at 11430 Chandler Blvd., where a count of the immediate neighborhood will then be conducted.

This year's point-in-time count will also occur during the mornings and evenings today, Wednesday and Thursday, with volunteers canvassing more than 80 cities and 200 communities across Los Angeles County in that time, LAHSA officials said.

On Wednesday, volunteers will focus on west and southeast Los Angeles as well as the South Bay. On Thursday, volunteers will count homeless people in Antelope Valley, downtown Los Angeles and South Los Angeles.

Garcetti said the city still needs more volunteers, who can sign up online, where a list of count locations can be found.

LAHSA officials said last week that volunteers are needed most for the counts in east Lancaster, east Palmdale, Granada Hills, Northridge, Rosemead, Avocado Heights, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, Vermont Square, Leimert Park, South Gate, Lawndale and Palos Verdes.

Homelessness in Los Angeles County increased by 12% from 2018 to 2019 to reach an estimated 58,936 people, based on the results of last year's point-in-time count.

Nearly three-quarters of those people were reported to be living in cars, tents, makeshift shelters or on the streets without any apparent cover from the elements.

"We have the largest unsheltered population in the nation and one of the largest homeless counts across America. Only New York has more people experiencing homelessness on any given night," former LAHSA Executive Director Peter Lynn said when the results were released last June.

The city of Los Angeles saw a 16% increase in its numbers, which resulted in about 36,000 homeless people.