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LA, Orange Counties begin homeless count

The annual three-night Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is underway with volunteers fanning out in primarily in West Los Angeles and the southeast portion of the county Wednesday.

Volunteers began tallying the number of unsheltered individuals, tents, vehicles and makeshift shelters they see in their assigned Census tract on Tuesday, the first day of the three-day initiative.

“I cannot underscore how critical this count is,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said at a news conference at Tiara Street Park in North Hollywood before the start of the count Tuesday. “Each year, this census helps us better understand where people are experiencing homelessness and where they are living across our entire county.

“The data we collect will allow us to strategically direct resources to communities to help people access shelter and more importantly also the services that oftentimes are lacking.”

Barger is also a member of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Commission. The authority conducts the annual count. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires a biennial point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness.

Volunteers will conduct counts in West Los Angeles, the southeast portion of Los Angeles County and the South Bay area Wednesday. Counting will be conducted in the Antelope Valley, Metro Los Angeles and South Los Angeles Thursday.

The 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count revealed a 9% year-over-year increase in homelessness in Los Angeles County and a 10% rise in Los Angeles. The data showed 75,518 people experienced homelessness in Los Angeles County, and 46,260 in Los Angeles, an increase from 69,144 in the county and 41,980 in the city from 2022.

Orange County’s count of its homeless population was also underway Wednesday.

Roughly 30 teams deployed from Anaheim and Fullerton to ask unhoused community members what they needed to strategize how to best help them.

“We want to make sure that we’re measuring the number of folks that are unhoused and to make sure that the efforts we are investing in are working,” said Vicente Sarmiento, County Supervisor of District 2.

Philip Beltron, who lives in his minivan, was born and raised in Orange County. He was living in Anaheim until he was evicted eight years ago. Beltron described to NBC4 what it’s like being unsheltered in Southern California.

“It’s live a living nightmare,” he said.

Now estranged from his family, Beltron suffers from injuries to his back, shoulders and knees on his own. He works odd jobs to support himself and said he feels unsafe turning to homeless shelters because he believes they are unsanitary and dangerous.

“People don’t want us, they just want us to die,” Beltron said. “Simple as that.”

Volunteers said they dedicated their time to the count to hopefully make a difference in the lives of those who are unhoused.

“I feel like it’s inhumane,” said Wendy Seiden. “There shouldn’t be a person who can’t go home to a hot shower and a warm bed.”

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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