Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

A homeless man sleeps under a blue blanket in downtown Santa Monica. Thousands of volunteers took part in the effort to count the homeless throughout the county, an effort that takes place every two years.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Volunteers Mackenzie Carter, from right, Cheryl Bagby, Debbie Lee, Laura Borsecnik and Chris Brown walk the streets of Santa Monica in an effort to count the homeless in the area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Volunteers Mackenzie Carter, left, Debbie Lee and Chris Brown walk past a homeless woman in downtown Santa Monica in an effort to count the homeless in the area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Tamra Foggy, 32, tries to stay warm on the Third Street Promenade in downtown Santa Monica. Foggy, who says she's been homeless for two years, is one of the those counted by volunteers in Santa Monica.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Volunteers Cheryl Bagby, left, Mackenzie Carter and others walk the streets of Santa Monica to count the homeless in the area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

A homeless man walks with his belongings in downtown Santa Monica as hundreds of volunteers took part in the effort to count the homeless there.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Volunteer Chris Brown keeps an eye out for the homeless at the foot of the Santa Monica Pier.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Volunteers Laura Borsecnik, from left in background, Mackenzie Carter, Chris Brown and Cheryl Bagby walk past a sleeping homeless man on the Third Street Promenade as part of an effort to count the homeless in the area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

The largest count of homeless individuals and families in the United States happened across Los Angeles County, where thousands of volunteers, including elected officials, were mobilized to determine the extent of homelessness in the region.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Diane Muldonado, 58, who has been homeless for 16 years, tries to stay warm while waiting for a bus in downtown Santa Monica.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

This week, thousands of volunteers fanned out across 4,000 square miles and pounded pavement at night. Bundled in jackets, and armed with clipboards, their task was an ambitious one: Count Los Angeles County's homeless population one person, one street at a time.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

A homeless couple huddle for warmth as they sleep alongside the Santa Monica Pier. They were among those counted in Santa Monica.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

A homeless person sits on a bench near the Santa Monica Pier as hundreds of volunteers took part in the effort to count the homeless in the area.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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By Matt Stevens

The glow of ice-colored lights wrapped tightly around the tree branches threw an unwelcome spotlight onto the people trying to sleep.

In her pink beanie, Mackenzie Carter and her team strolled by. It was past midnight and many of those sitting on the Third Street Promenade’s benches buried their heads in their arms. As she walked, Carter made a single tally mark for each person the team deemed homeless, then tucked her clipboard between her side and her purse, shielding it from sight.

Debbie Lee, Carter’s “team captain,” followed a few paces behind. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a person curled up in the nook of an upscale clothing store’s emergency exit door. The person, asleep under a thin white plastic trash bag, was off the main walkway and easy to miss.

“Did you get him?” Lee whispered to her team.

This week, thousands of volunteers like Carter and Lee fanned out across 4,000 square miles and pounded pavement in the dark of night, bundled in jackets and armed with maps. Their task was an ambitious one: Count Los Angeles County’s homeless population one person, one street at a time.

The massive endeavor is the “largest count of homeless individuals and families” in the country, officials said. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates that jurisdictions perform a homeless count every two years.

In a county as geographically large and dense as this one, officials with the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said they have to use statistical sampling to cover about a quarter of the county’s census tracts. The rest are accounted for by a combination of street counts by volunteers and data reported by shelters, transitional housing programs and other facilities.

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