LA County homeless count continues as Mayor Garcetti requests additional federal assistance

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority officials and volunteers will continue to conduct this year's homeless count as Mayor Eric Garcetti travels to Washington, D.C., where he's expected to meet with members of the Trump administration to discuss the homelessness crisis.

Garcetti, who was involved in the first night of counting Tuesday, plans to meet with Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson to request more federal assistance.

The count will continue during Garcetti's trip, with volunteers Wednesday focusing on west and southeast Los Angeles as well as the South Bay. On Thursday, volunteers will count homeless people in Antelope Valley, downtown Los Angeles and South Los Angeles.

The effort, known as the point-in-time count or 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, is essential to understanding how large the homeless crisis has become and is required to be conducted by Continuum of Care providers to receive federal funding through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

"Angelenos are coming together across L.A. County to confront homelessness and the housing crisis because we believe that the future of our homeless brothers and sisters is part of our city's identity,'' Garcetti said in a video posted to his Twitter page Sunday. "We want to help them get back on their feet and because we know every single person in this city matters, whether they have a permanent address or not.''

Gregory Hooks, who is homeless, said he thinks the count can help.

"People need to know what's going on in the community, and keeping track of everybody is very important for the metrics," he said. "However, all the agencies are not working in concert, which makes it difficult to address the issue."

A volunteer explained why she got involved in the count, which will cover 80 cities and 200 communities across L.A. County.

"It's a pretty obvious issue that we have in L.A. You can't drive under a bridge anywhere in East Valley, probably anywhere in the city or the county, without seeing tents and makeshift shelters," volunteer Cami Slotkin said. "It's a problem that I'd like to be part of whatever means we can do to repair it."

Garcetti was among those holding clipboards as the counting began Tuesday night in North Hollywood.

"Kicking off the annual Homeless Count, an important opportunity to make sure every Angeleno is counted and get the info we need to deliver help in every neighborhood across L.A.,'' Garcetti tweeted Tuesday night.

Garcetti said the city still needs more volunteers, who can sign up online at theycountwillyou.org, where a list of count locations can be found.

LAHSA officials said last week that volunteers are needed most for the counts in east Lancaster, east Palmdale, Granada Hills, Northridge, Rosemead, Avocado Heights, Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Bel Air, Pacific Palisades, Vermont Square, Leimert Park, South Gate, Lawndale and Palos Verdes.

Homelessness in Los Angeles County increased by 12% from 2018 to 2019 to reach an estimated 58,936 people, based on the results of last year's point-in-time count.

Nearly three-quarters of those people were reported to be living in cars, tents, makeshift shelters or on the streets without any apparent cover from the elements.

Los Angeles saw a 16% increase in its numbers, which resulted in about 36,000 homeless people.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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