Santa Monica To Conduct Annual Homeless Count Jan. 30; Volunteers Needed

Thursday, 24 Jan 2013, 8:28:00 AM

Tim Broughton

Another January in Santa Monica means it is time for the City’s annual Homeless Count. City Hall announced last week the yearly tally of the homeless living on the streets of Santa Monica would be held on the night of Jan. 30.

The purpose of the annual count helps assess the effectiveness of the City’s efforts to address homelessness.

To effectively perform the enumeration campaign, City Hall seeks at least 200 volunteers to work the Homeless Count.

The Homeless Count will begin at 10:30 p.m. and run for four hours until 2:30 a.m. A training session and kickoff event will take place at the East Wing of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, East Wing.

The count helps City Hall keep track of trends among Santa Monica’s homeless population. It also helps the City adjust the types of programs and services available according to need and use resources as efficiently as possible and comply with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requirements.

Further, the Homeless Count hopes to raise public awareness about the issue of homelessness.

City Hall is required to conduct homeless counts every odd year in order to receive federal funding for homelessness programs from the HUD. However, Santa Monica voluntary conducts the Count during even years, as well.

Prior to the 2012 Homeless Count, City Hall stated the count has helped more than 100 Santa Monica residents avoid homelessness.

In an annual review of homelessness by the City Council in November of last year, it was revealed the number of people spending the night on Santa Monica’s streets dropped by about 150 since 2009. However, with the loss of redevelopment funds earlier in 2012, City Hall now has less money available for affordable housing programs to help address homelessness.

It remains to be seen whether the dwindling resources to prevent people from spending nights on local streets will result in an increase in the number of homeless within and around Santa Monica.

“Past counts have helped demonstrate a reduction in homelessness and the tangible effects of the City’s ‘Action Plan to Address Homelessness,’ local programs, and initiatives,” City staff stated. “Last year’s count showed the City maintained the 34 percent reduction in street homelessness documented in 2010, with (more than) 150 fewer people sleeping on city streets since 2009.”

City-funded agencies include OPCC, St. Joseph Center, and Step Up on Second – under the guidance and generous support of Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s Office – have also teamed up with the VA and other nonprofit agencies to permanently house Los Angeles County’s most chronically homeless vets via Project 60.

“Volunteers will receive training, and will deploy in teams from the Civic to cover every area of the city by foot and by car to conduct a visual count of people who are homeless,” City staff stated. “At the same time, homeless individuals will be counted in shelters, transitional programs, hospital emergency rooms and other overnight facilities.”

Anyone interested in volunteering can RSVP at www.smgov.net/homelesscountvolunteer.aspx or call Johanna Rodriguez at 310.458.8701 She can also be reached by email at johanna.rodriguez@smgov.net.

To find out more about what Santa Monica is doing to address homelessness beyond conducting annual Counts, visit www.smgov.net/homelessness.

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