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Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count resumes in Westwood, seeks volunteers

Two local organizations will execute the city’s annual homeless count in Westwood on Jan. 26 for the first time since 2019 after a cancellation last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Kurtis Yan

Jan. 6, 2022 12:23 a.m.

The 2022 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count will be conducted in person in Westwood by two local organizations on Jan. 26, following a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual homeless count aims to record the number of people experiencing homelessness throughout all of Los Angeles County. More than 100 volunteers participated in Westwood’s 2020 count, including multiple UCLA students.

The annual count divides LA County into sections for local volunteer groups to review from Jan. 25 to Jan. 27. The Westwood portion of the 2022 count is sponsored by the Westwood Neighborhood Council, a neighborhood council that represents parts of Westwood to the Los Angeles City Council, and the Westwood Community Council, a community organization.

[Related: Students turn out in increased numbers as volunteers for LA 2020 Homeless Count]

Westwood officials overseeing the local count said they are implementing policies to conduct the count safely.

Lisa Chapman, the president of the WWNC, said volunteers must be vaccinated and masked to participate.

Additionally, all volunteers must comply with social distancing guidelines and stay home if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which oversees the count at the county level.

The WWNC and WCC have also encouraged volunteers to register in pairs in order to limit contact between people from different households or social circles.

Steve Sann, the chair of the WCC, said volunteers should be paired with their acquaintances since counting teams often carpool while counting their assigned portion of Westwood.

Accurate homeless counts are important because they are used by the government to determine which regions have the highest numbers of people experiencing homelessness, and counts are used to properly allocate district funds to address homelessness, Chapman said.

Andrew Thomas, the executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association, said homeless counts can give insight into demographic characteristics of people experiencing homelessness.

Sann said the 2022 homeless count will provide the first organized opportunity to analyze how the pandemic has affected the number of people experiencing homelessness in LA.

Chapman added that the pandemic has deepened economic disparities, which have ultimately led to a rise in the number of people experiencing homelessness.

Homelessness increased by nearly 13% from 2019 to 2020, according to the 2020 count. Furthermore, mass job losses and layoffs during the pandemic have exacerbated homelessness across LA County, according to research group Economic Roundtable.

Thomas also said homelessness has risen annually in LA, adding that growth in the total number of people experiencing homelessness in LA has outpaced public outreach services placing them into housing.

The 2020 homeless count found that on average 227 people lose their homes each day, while 207 are placed into housing, according to LAHSA.

The Economic Roundtable report projects that more than 52,000 additional adults will be experiencing homelessness by 2023 in LA County, nearly doubling the roughly 66,000 individuals recorded as experiencing homelessness from the 2020 count.

Volunteers can sign up for the 2022 Westwood homeless count through the count’s website. Volunteers will meet at the Westwood Presbyterian Church for training and instructions on Jan. 26 prior to the start of the count.

Contributing reports by Justin Jung, city and crime editor.

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