SANTA MONICA—The annual Santa Monica Homeless Count to record the number of people sleeping outside within city boundaries will begin at the St. Monica Catholic Community on Grand Pavilion 725 California Ave. on January 25.
For the Santa Monica count, teams of volunteers are assigned to count the homeless population by walking or driving in every street, alley and park in the area. This year’s count will include Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer and the City Council, City Manager Rick Cole, Assemblymember Richard Bloom, Fire Chief Bill Walker, the Police Department, the Human Services Division, and a total of 250 volunteers.
“It’s important for us to have that data on an annual basis to provide us with metrics by which we can gauge the success or lack thereof of our programs,” said Winterer.
Some of the programs the city has created to address homelessness in the community include prevention, outreach, transitional and permanent shelter and other services, according to the city government’s website.
Santa Monica began the Homeless Count in 2010 to identify homeless population trends in the city. In addition to measuring the progress towards ending homelessness, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development keeps tracks of the records from each community count and uses the information to determine the amount of federal funds to allocate to homeless programs.
The 2016 street count identified there was 416 homeless people in Santa Monica, compared to 402 in 2015. The city’s key findings report indicated that although homelessness increased, it was 13 percent lower than in 2009. According to the report, city staff and volunteers also conducted brief demographic surveys over three nights in several locations including downtown, Palisades Park and the beach and found out that only three percent of homeless people in Santa Monica spent their entire homeless experience in the city while 52 percent reported arriving from somewhere else in Los Angeles County.
To deal with the increase in the homeless population last year, the city reported to having implemented the Los Angeles County’s Homeless initiative and explored ways to collaborate with regional partners to increase the capacity of services and housing outside of Santa Monica.