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. If you would like to know more, please visit the "Contact Us" page at https://www.theycountwillyou.org/contact and follow the link to our contact form and send our team a message.

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

Typically, volunteers are needed for 3-4 hours on the night/morning 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 all Continuums of Care conduct a census of their homeless population during the last 10 days of January.  One reason the Count is conducted in January is that it’s historically the coldest month of the year, promoting more folks to be in shelter for the colder weather, making it easier to conduct the census. The reason for conducting the Count towards the end of the month is 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 2%.  We rely heavily on the knowledge of residents to help us count in their areas.  That’s why it is really important for volunteers to come out and support the effort in their neighborhoods.

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

Answer

There are four components to the Homeless Count.  The most publicized is the Street Count when thousands of volunteers conduct a visual tally. The second component is the Shelter and Institution Count where we ask service providers and institutions to report on how many homeless individuals occupied their facilities on the night of the Count.  The third component is the Youth Count, which is survey-based.  Youth experiencing homelessness are extremely difficult to identify by sight so we rely on a survey-based methodology.  The fourth component is the demographic survey. This survey allows us to confidently estimate demographic characteristics such as veteran status, race, and gender for the entire homeless population in our Continuum of Care. 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

According to the data gathered in the 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, the Homeless population in Los Angeles County decreased by 4% from the 2017 Homeless Count. It is important to note that visible Homelessness increased year over year from 2017 (slide 13). Homelessness is a complex issue with multiple contributing factors ranging from systemic injustices to the health of the economy.  In Los Angeles we face the huge challenge of the lack of affordable housing. 

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

While the Federal Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) mandates a Homeless Count every two years, LAHSA conducts a Homeless Count yearly to gain an understanding of trends, track progress, and better understand our homeless population.

Our solutions are only as good as our information. The more informed we are, the better we are equipped to understand and solve issues. The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is where we gather as much information as possible from those experiencing homelessness so that we can make informed decisions and develop creative solutions. It enables us to gather important data that is key for us to bring about an end to homelessness in Los Angeles.

Through the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, we will:

  • Inform the state of homelessness in LA
  • Bring vital community resources
  • Increase engagement bringing together leaders, residents and stakeholders

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 on this page and will go a through a 2 step process. The first step is to select a location in the community or neighborhood of their choice. The second step is to provide contact information to complete the RSVP process. If a volunteer wishes to modify their site selection after completing the registration process, they should contact their Community Engagement Coordinator to modify their RSVP. Deployment sites do have limited capacity and sign-ups are at first-come first-serve basis.

How can I volunteer beyond the count?

Answer

We encourage volunteers to connect with local service providers where they can volunteer.  LAHSA Community Engagement Coordinators can direct volunteers to local coalitions and service providers.