Annual Homelessness Count Takes Off In L.A.

As a vital component of the region’s efforts to address the situation of the thousands of individuals living on the streets, the yearly count of the homeless happened in Los Angeles County.

According to the HUD website, a single January night is used for the Point-in-Time (PIT) count, which is a count of both housed and unsheltered homeless persons. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) mandates that each county or city maintain an annual census of all persons sleeping on one night in emergency shelters, transitional homes, and Safe Havens. Additionally, in odd-numbered years, CoCs must count the number of homeless persons who are not in shelters. There is a local level of planning, coordination, and execution for each count.

The Housing Inventory Count (HIC) is a snapshot in time that captures all the programs inside a range of care offering individual beds and units.  It categorizes these programs into five types: emergency shelter, transitional housing,  rapid re-housing, transitional housing, safe haven, and transitional housing. For permanent housing projects, this also applies to those who are homeless at entry, according to the HUD homeless definition.

The county’s homeless population has grown by 70% and the city’s by 80% since 2015.

Local reports show homelessness was proclaimed a state of emergency by Mayor Karen Bass on the first day in office in December 2022. Over 21,000 individuals were relocated to temporary shelters or rented hotels in 2023, a 28% rise from the previous year, according to the mayor, a Democrat, who made the announcement. She said in January that housing projects are in the works and that dozens of drug-ridden homeless encampments have been dismantled.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, City Hall, and the Los Angeles City Council agreed to collaborate to address the situation. Even if efforts to reduce homelessness have received billions of dollars, progress hasn’t always been visible.

Tent cities, makeshift homes in automobiles, and rough sleeping on streets and beneath freeway overpasses are all too familiar in California.

The findings of the Los Angeles County homeless count will be announced in late spring or early summer.