- How does counting homeless persons help to reduce and end homelessness?
- I’ve never done this before. How will I know how to count homeless people?
- Can I select the area where I volunteer?
- What is the time commitment and expected schedule for the homeless count?
- What will I do as a volunteer?
- Can I invite others to join?
- I’m younger than 18. Can I volunteer?
- Why is the Count in the winter and not the summer? Why is it conducted the last 10 days of January?
- How confident are you with the Count results? Don't you miss a lot of people?
- How do you know demographic characteristics if it's a visual-only count?
- Why do so many people experience homelessness in LA?
- Why do we have to do the Count every year?
- Why do we count at night?
- How will volunteers be assigned to or choose a deployment site?
- How can I volunteer beyond the count?
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.
All volunteers will be fully trained and provided with equipment and materials.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers under the age of 14 may volunteer at LAHSA headquarters but cannot volunteer during the Homeless Count.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.