SANTA MONICA—A press release from the city of Santa Monica revealed the results of Santa Monica’s annual Homeless Count, conducted on January 25 with the rest of Los Angeles County during City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 9. The report indicates that the homeless population in the city has risen 26 percent over the last year, from 728 individuals in 2016 to 921 in 2017.

The yearly count found 581 people living on the street, up 39 percent from 416 in 2016. The number of people living in vehicles or encampments increased 26 percent, from 73 last year to 92. The population living in shelters and institutions rose 9 percent, from 312 to 340 in 2017.

The January report indicates that 29 percent of the homeless count had been in Santa Monica for less than one month, 46 percent came to the city from other parts of Los Angeles, and 32 percent came from out of state.

In 2015, one of City Council’s top five strategic goals was to address homelessness. Over the months, housing and services have been prioritized to help the vulnerable, through methods such as Measure H, a local transaction and use tax, Measure GSH, and Measure HHH, which aim to combat homelessness through funding, reduction, and prevention.

“Homelessness impacts everyone in our city from the individuals suffering on the streets to residents, businesses, and visitors,” said Mayor Ted Winterer. “This issue is one of City Council’s strategic goals and we are invested in regional collaboration to end this crisis.”

The increase in homelessness indicates the impact of the regional homeless crisis on Santa Monica, according to the press release. Santa Monica’s homeless services have long reached out to the most vulnerable first, including those suffering from medical needs or disabilities. The growing regional count, which reported over 46,000 homeless individuals in 2016, has exceeded the care and shelter the city’s system can provide.

To combat homelessness, Santa Monica has organized the Homeless Multi-Disciplinary Street Team, which provides medical services to 20 to 25 homeless individuals identified as the top utilizers of emergency services. The Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles has also provided flexible funding, housing rights education and protection, and eviction defense. Local residents and businesses have been encouraged to volunteer, donate, and advocate for more affordable housing.

Over 250 volunteers and city staff members covered a total of 226 linear miles in Santa Monica to tally the numbers of homeless individuals sleeping outdoors, in vehicles or tents, or in shelters, jails, and hospitals. The annual count demonstrates the number of people experiencing homelessness on a given night. According to the press release, it is not an accurate representation of the number of homeless people in the city during the day or throughout the year.

Additional data for the rest of Los Angeles County will be released from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) in June, which will reveal more about the regional trend.

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