Thousands of volunteers help count L.A. County’s homeless

As city and county officials gear up for what is promised as a $100-million program to reduce homelessness, thousands of volunteers hit the streets to document the scale of the problem.

Nearly 7,500 volunteers signed up to take part in the 2016 homeless count, said Naomi Goldman, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which organized the event.

The volunteers gathered at 150 deployment centers across the county over three nights beginning  in the San Gabriel Valley and East Los Angeles. The count moved to the San Fernando Valley, West Los Angeles and the South Bay on Wednesday night. Malibu, Pacific Palisades and the Antelope Valley Thursday morning. The count concluded Thursday night in the central city and South Los Angeles.

This year marks the first homeless count to be conducted in consecutive years. Since 2005, the joint city-county agency had organized the massive effort during only odd-numbered years.

Amid growing public concern over the spread of homeless encampments to neighborhoods far from skid row, last year’s count set off alarms by recording a dramatic increase in homelessness. The count set the number at 44,000 homeless people, a 12% increase over the previous count.

More than 33,000 of those were classified as unsheltered, living on the streets in encampments, doorways and vehicles.

— Los Angeles Times