SANTA MONICA—On Thursday, May 4, the city of Santa Monica released the results of the 2023 Homeless Count held in January. The results indicated 926 people experiencing homelessness were counted in Santa Monica, an overall increase of 15 percent from the 807 individuals counted during the 2022 Homeless Count.
A total of 73 more individuals were counted on the street and in vehicles, and 46 more individuals were counted in the Shelter and Institutional count, which consists of emergency motels, shelters, hospitals and the Santa Monica jail, the city of Santa Monica reported in a press release.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) is expected to release the results of the 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count between June and September 2023, which will provide perspective for Santa Monica’s results within the County. Preliminary analysis suggests that multiple factors may have contributed to this year’s increase. In 2022, the 11 percent decrease in overall homelessness as compared to 2020 was due to the significant reduction in the local shelter capacity following COVID-19 public health guidance. In 2022, the number of individuals counted on the street and in vehicles increased by approximately 1 percent. As public health guidelines eased, shelter capacity increased, allowing more individuals to obtain shelter beds than in 2022.
Additionally, while local shelter capacity increased since the 2022 Homeless Count, the temporary regional motel shelter capacity implemented during the pandemic continued to wind down, including the 50-room Project Roomkey facility in Venice. This regional demobilization and decrease in the availability of motel rooms may have contributed to an increase in demand on local shelters, which increased shelter counts, and possibly the street count as individuals were displaced from neighboring motels.
“Addressing homelessness is a top priority for the City Council,” said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis. “It is an absolute tragedy that more than 66,000 people are experiencing homelessness in LA County, and Santa Monica remains committed to doing our part to advocate for our most vulnerable community members and connect them to housing and services.”
“Acknowledging the urgent need to address the mounting impacts of homelessness, the Council declared a Local Emergency on Homelessness on February 14, 2023,” said Santa Monica City Manager David White. “This action, combined with an infusion of funds from the passage of Measures CS and GS, will allow us to seize this moment of public support to expand and implement evidence-based best practices and cut through obstacles both internally and in working with our regional partners.”
City staff will present a comprehensive update on homelessness to the Santa Monica City Council and community at its regular meeting on Tuesday, May 9 at 5:30 p.m. The update responds to questions and concerns brought forward by the City Council and the community, and will help them consider investments for the FY 2023-25 budget including:
-Expansion of the City’s homeless multidisciplinary outreach teams’ work beyond the Downtown and Beach area, adding coverage to the entire city.
-Redesign of the SAMOSHEL interim housing program to accommodate 24/7 intakes, giving additional options for after-hours intake and facilitating SMPD transports for people experiencing homelessness and non-urgent behavioral health issues.
-Adding police officers to expand the Police Department’s Homeless Liaison Program (HLP) to make it operational seven days a week and to augment Police Department staffing where it is most needed to address community needs. Resources will also go toward the Directed Action Response Team (DaRT), which addresses matters of public safety in the Downtown, Pier and Beach areas.
-Expansion of public space maintenance investments, including enhancements to ensure higher-risk cleanup activities are performed safely, using an additional, specialized pilot Homeless Support Team (HoST) to address “hot spots” and respond to 3-1-1 requests.
For more details, visit santamonica.gov/topic-explainers/homelessness.