Big Turnout For 2014 Santa Monica Homeless Count

Friday, 7 Feb 2014, 7:05:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

An estimated 250 people turned out the night of Wednesday, Jan. 29 to help the City of Santa Monica conduct its annual Homeless Count.

The volunteers helped City officials to walk the streets of Santa Monica and tabulate the number of people living within city limits without a roof over their respective heads.

As is tradition with the annual Homeless Count, this year’s event began at 10:30 pm on Jan. 29 and continued through 2:30 am the following morning. All volunteers met up at the Grand Pavilion of St. Monica Catholic Church before joining teams and canvassing one of four quadrants covering the City.

While walking their respective beats, the teams of volunteers essentially survey public areas for those who appear to be homeless and make a formal record of it on a sheet.

The results are still weeks away from being published.

According to City Hall, the 2013 Homeless Count revealed overall homelessness in Santa Monica remained stable, “there have been significant increases in unsheltered individuals and people in vehicles that increased the street count by 20 percent. At the same time, the number of people in shelters decreased by 12 percent largely due to the reduced reliance on Santa Monica motels as emergency housing.”

Last year’s Homeless Count also revealed, according to City Hall, that no families were observed living on Santa Monica’s streets. Also, only six people were found sleeping on beach. Across Los Angeles County, the 2013 Homeless Count revealed a 16 percent increase in regional homelessness, according to City Hall.

In all, the total homeless population increased by 1 percent between 2012 and 2013, with last year’s Homeless Count accounting for 780 people, up 11 from the previous January.

When the first count was conducted in 2009, the total homeless count in Santa Monica was 915. There was a dramatic reduction the following year, when the 2010 Homeless Count calculated a total homeless population of 742. That number dropped to 740 in 2011.

Last year, the total unsheltered street homeless population is 316, up 20 percent from 2012. An estimated 57 individuals slept in vehicles in 2013, up 57 percent from the previous year. About 400 people slept in shelters or other institutions last year, down 12 percent from 2012. Seven individuals resided in encampments last year, equaling 2012 results.

As soon as this year’s results are released by City Hall, The Mirror will update coverage and report on how the 2014 Homeless Count stacks up against previous years.

Cities are required by federal law to conduct homeless counts every two years. However, Santa Monica decided in 2010 to make the homeless count an annual occurrence.

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