Last night, dozens of local volunteers gathered at the Hope Lutheran Church on Melrose to participate in the city’s annual homeless count, conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
At the beginning of the event, local coordinators Max Kirkham and Tammy Rosato welcomed City Council Member David Ryu, who gave volunteers instructions and thanked them for their participation in what he called “the fundamental building block in the effort to help the homeless.” He explained that the data collected from the count helps the city deliver the resources where they are needed.
“Homelessness is the crisis of our time,” said Ryu. He also reminded volunteers to be respectful of the homeless people they may encounter, and that this is a visual count, so there would be no reason to engage any individuals. Ryu told the group he was heading over to Hollywood next, and he welcomed anyone who wanted to keep counting to join him after completing their count in the Greater Wilshire area.
After watching a short video on how to count, the group was divided into 11 teams that would drive the census tracts covering most of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council area. Three teams were assigned to walk. Professional staff from LAHSA were also disbursed to cover sensitive areas.
Vince Cox of Larchmont Village and Laura Foti Cohen of Brookside joined me driving two census tracts that covered parts of Hancock Park, La Brea Hancock, Brookside and Windsor Square neighborhoods. We spotted about eight homeless individuals sleeping in alleys and on benches on commercial streets during the two hours we spent driving around.
“It’s incredible when you really start to look for these people,” Vince Cox told the Buzz. He said he volunteered this year for the first time because he feels it’s so important to address the issue of homelessness. This was second year for Laura Foti Cohen and me.
Results of the count will be published on the website of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority once the process is completed.