Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How does counting homeless persons help to reduce and end homelessness?

Answer

We need to know the size and scope of homelessness throughout Los Angeles County. In order to make a difference in the lives of our homeless neighbors, we need to know who they are and where they reside. The Count is the first step to our goal of helping homeless persons find permanent housing.

I’ve never done this before. How will I know how to count homeless people?

Answer

All volunteers will be fully trained and provided with equipment and materials.

Can I select the area where I volunteer?

Answer

Yes! We encourage volunteers to count in the community they are most familiar with! Visit www.TheyCountWillYou.org/Volunteer to register and indicate your area preference. 

What is the time commitment and expected schedule for the homeless count?

Answer

The time commitment is generally 3-5 hours for most volunteer roles on the day/night of the Count. However, if you would also like to volunteer before and after the Count, please let us know when you register.

What will I do as a volunteer?

Answer

There are many volunteer roles available to help make the Homeless Count a success.

Street Count volunteers serve as counters, drivers, and navigators. The roles are assigned when volunteers report to their deployment sites on the nights of the Count. After receiving training and materials, volunteers are deployed in groups of 2-4 to count specific blocks in an area. Each position is outside counting for up to four hours. To sign up for the Street Count, visit TheyCountWillYou.org/Volunteer.

Office volunteers make phone calls to recruit volunteers, help with data entry, and provide support at LAHSA headquarters. You can serve as an office volunteer between December 17 and January 21. To sign up, please email Allura Graham at agraham@lahsa.org.

Can I invite others to join?

Answer

Yes! You can invite as many people as you would like simply by sending them the registration link: www.TheyCountWillYou.org/Volunteer.

I’m younger than 18. Can I volunteer?

Answer

Volunteers who are 14-17 years old can help at deployment sites and at LAHSA headquarters, but they cannot join street counting teams. To volunteer at a deployment site during the Homeless Count, visit TheyCountWillYou.org/Volunteer. To volunteer at LAHSA headquarters between December 17 and January 21, email Allura Graham at agraham@lahsa.org.

Volunteers under the age of 14 may volunteer at LAHSA headquarters but cannot volunteer during the Homeless Count.

Why is the Count in the winter and not the summer? Why is it conducted the last 10 days of January?

Answer

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development mandates that homeless counts across the country occur during the last 10 days of January. January is historically the coldest month of the year, and folks are more likely to be in shelters, which makes it easier to conduct the census. The Count is conducted towards the end of the month because that is when more people experience homelessness.

How confident are you with the Count results? Don't you miss a lot of people?

Answer

Our margin of error is less than 5%. We rely heavily on the knowledge of residents to help us count in their areas. That’s why it is important for volunteers to come out and support the Count in their neighborhoods.

How do you know demographic characteristics if it's a visual-only count?

Answer

There are four components of the Homeless Count. One of the components is the Demographic Survey, where we survey a sample of 5,000 to 7,000 people experiencing homelessness. This survey allows us to confidently estimate demographic characteristics such as veteran status, race, and gender for the entire homeless population in our area. This demographic information is also applied to the tally sheets collected during the Street Count.

Why do so many people experience homelessness in LA?

Answer

Homelessness is a complex issue with a number of contributing factors, ranging from systemic injustices to the health of the economy. In Los Angeles, our main challenge is that we have one of the least affordable housing markets in America. LA County needs over 565,000 new affordable housing units for low-income renters—16,000 more than the previous year. Since 2000, median rent in Los Angeles County has increased 32% while median renter household income has decreased 3%.

Sources: California Housing Partnership Corporation. (May 2018). Los Angeles County’s Housing Emergency and Proposed Solutions; California Housing Partnership Corporation (May 2017). Los Angeles County Renters in Crisis: A Call for Action.

Why do we have to do the Count every year?

Answer

LAHSA conducts the Homeless Count every year to gain a clear understanding of trends, track progress, and better understand our homeless population so that we can address needs as quickly as possible.

Why do we count at night?

Answer

Our aim is to count when homeless individuals are beginning to settle in for the night. Counting at night or in the early morning hours reduces the chance of double counting someone who has moved from one area to another.

How will volunteers be assigned to or choose a deployment site?

Answer

Volunteers will register at theycountwillyou.org. They will go a through a simple 3 step process. The first two steps are filling out personal information. The third and final step is choosing the location(s) where you’d like to volunteer. If a volunteer wishes to count somewhere other than the site selected, they can volunteer at the site of their choice by contacting their Community Engagement Coordinator. Deployment sites do have limited capacity. Sign-ups are at first-come first-serve basis.

How can I volunteer beyond the count?

Answer

Visit our Contact Us page to connect with one of our community engagement coordinators, who can direct you to local coalitions and service providers with volunteer opportunities.