The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) announced an array of updates on how it conducts the annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. For the 2023 Homeless Count, LAHSA is taking lessons learned from last year and the best practices from previous years to improve deployment sites, training, and digital tools by:
- Hiring a demographer and two data scientists to help optimize the data analysis process of the Homeless Count
- Simplifying volunteer training and offering it both in-person and online
- Replacing the counting app used in 2022 with one built by a new vendor with years of experience developing apps for Homeless Counts across the country, allowing volunteers to see their data submissions in the app and deployment site leads to access a real-time dashboard
- Developing a new quality assurance process that includes LAHSA staff at each deployment site and the use of backup paper maps and tally sheets if volunteers have internet connectivity issues while counting
- Considering any census tracts with missing data to be uncounted and deploying make-up count teams to ensure the data in every census tract with people experiencing unsheltered homelessness is captured.
“The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is an important resource for understanding the scope and nature of homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA continues to refine and improve our approach in the interest of a more accurate count with greater stakeholder involvement,” said Stephen David Simon, Interim Executive Director of LAHSA. “The Count is an opportunity to reflect on the life-saving impact of our collective investments, the challenges we continue to tackle together, and the humanity of the homelessness crisis.”
The annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count includes the Unsheltered Count, Youth Count, and Housing Inventory Count (a census of people living in interim and permanent supportive housing). LAHSA will conduct the Youth Count from January 21 through 31 and the Housing Inventory Count on January 25.
The Unsheltered Count will begin on Tuesday, January 24, in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys. East and West Los Angeles volunteers will count on Wednesday, January 25. Finally, the Count will wrap up Thursday, January 26, in South Los Angeles, Metro Los Angeles, and the Antelope Valley. This year, LAHSA is looking for volunteers to fill over 8000 shifts during the above period.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires a biennial point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness. In 2016, LAHSA started hosting the Homeless Count annually to provide improved analysis regarding the trends of people experiencing homelessness. LAHSA partners with data experts at the University of Southern California, with guidance from HUD, to design the process for creating an accurate estimate of unhoused people living in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care. Though not intended for use as a census of neighborhood-level geographies, the Count is vital for developing a comprehensive picture of homelessness in our region.
After receiving a waiver from HUD, LAHSA canceled the 2021 Homeless Count to protect volunteers from COVID-19. In 2022, LAHSA made several modifications to the Count intended to limit person-to-person contact and ensure volunteer safety, which created additional challenges to conducting the Count.
For the 2023 Homeless Count, LAHSA will offer in-person training using the new app built by ESRI, an app developer with years of experience conducting point-in-time counts nationwide. LAHSA continues to look for opportunities to improve processes and procedures related to the Count and to build upon the adjustments made based on lessons learned with the 2022 Homeless Count.
LAHSA is looking for thousands of additional volunteers to participate in this year’s Homeless Count. The Homeless Count represents an excellent opportunity for people throughout Greater Los Angeles to participate in the process of helping their unhoused neighbors. Anyone interested in volunteering can visit https://www.theycountwillyou.org/ to learn more.