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The Greater LA Homeless Count spotlights an ongoing issue for the county




Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti takes part in the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count along Aetna Street at Tyrone Avenue in Van Nuys.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti takes part in the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count along Aetna Street at Tyrone Avenue in Van Nuys.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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The annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is underway. The count started Tuesday and takes place over three nights.

This year Peter Lynn, director of the L.A. Homeless Services Authority, said there's been a surge in volunteers turning out to help. The volunteers walk and drive each section of L.A. county, tallying the number of homeless individuals they see.

A demographic study of Los Angeles' homeless population is also taken at this time to give a better understanding of their needs and what services could help them best, Lynn explained 

He said it is hard to predict right now what results the numbers will show.

"I try to keep a neutral expectation, let the data speak for itself. Obviously we're all hopeful that the numbers would go down, but I want the data to speak for itself."

However, with last year's count showing homelessness in the county was up 23% over the previous year, Lynn acknowledged that this was an ongoing issue for L.A.

"It's certainly a very visible part of our landscape now, which is one of the reasons why Angelenos are turning out in record numbers to volunteer to participate in the count, and why they turned out last year in overwhelming majorities to vote for resources to address homelessness."

Voters passed Measure H, a 1/4-cent sales tax, in March to provide about $355 million a year for homeless services in the county. Also, Proposition HHH  passed in November 2016, adding $1.2 billion in bond money to the City of L.A.'s fund for low-income housing. 

In addition to more services, Lynn said, in the long-term, Los Angeles just needs more housing to fight the homelessness problem.