The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority(LAHSA) will delay its annual homeless count by one month due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. It will take place from Feb. 22-24.
The effort, known as the point-in-time count or Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, is essential to understanding how large the region’s homelessness crisis has become. It must be conducted by Continuum of Care providers to receive federal funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
During the three-day count, Los Angeles County will be divided as follows:
— the San Gabriel and San Fernando valley counts will take place on Feb. 22;
— the West L.A., Southeast L.A. and South Bay counts will take place on Feb. 23; and
— the Antelope Valley, Metro L.A. and South L.A. counts will take place on Feb. 24.
“While we work to ensure an accurate Homeless Count, we cannot ignore the surging number of positive COVID-19 cases across our region,” said LAHSA Executive Director Heidi Marston. “Even with safety precautions such as moving training online, developing outdoor deployment sites and keeping households together, moving forward with a count in January places our unhoused neighbors, volunteers, staff and the accuracy of the count at risk.”
LAHSA had already made design changes to this year’s count due to COVID-19, even before the Omicron variant surge postponed the survey.
The changes include moving deployment sites outdoors, moving volunteer training sessions online, encouraging volunteers to minimize cross-group interactions, requiring masks and encouraging volunteers to be vaccinated.
“The Homeless Count is an essential tool in giving us a point-in-time snapshot of homelessness. Data from the count is used to inform the delivery of services and programs for people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles,” Marston added.
This year’s count will be the first since 2020, as last year’s was canceled after LAHSA determined it was not safe to gather 8,000 volunteers, given guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and taking into account stay-at-home orders and curfews due to COVID-19.