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Homeless Count 2019

About Homeless Count 2019:

Each year across the United States, regional and local municipalities conduct an annual “point in time” (PIT) count of the number of people who are experiencing homelessness. These counts, which are conducted by entities known as continuums of care (CoC) that coordinate housing and services funding for homeless populations, are required by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and are used to determine the allocation of resources. The counts provide separate estimates of people who use shelters and those who do not use shelters (i.e. unsheltered) and who are typically found living on the streets or in cars, vans, RVs, tents, and makeshift shelters. While it is relatively straightforward to estimate the sheltered population because people typically must sign-in or register in order to access shelters, accurate estimates of the unsheltered population are more challenging.


Los Angeles County (LAC) has the largest unsheltered homeless population in the United States. In 2018, it was estimated that three out of four people experiencing homelessness - nearly 40,000 people – were unsheltered in LAC. This compares to New York City that has the largest overall homeless population but is almost entirely (over 90%) sheltered. In order to address the inherent challenge of estimating the size and characteristics of a large unsheltered population, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) uses a method that includes a full enumeration of the number of individuals, families, and makeshift shelters (e.g. cars, tents, etc.) observed on the streets in each census tract (CT) that is included in the LAC continuum of care as well as a face-to-face survey that is conducted with approximately 5,000 unsheltered individuals from across LAC. The USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social work has deployed teams of trained individuals to conduct these surveys over the past 3 years – many of whom are MSW students.


            Below are some reflections from USC MSW students who participated in the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count Survey Team.

Students perspectives

"The Los Angeles Homeless Count open my eyes to the diverse populations and the impact of not having stable housing. Working with community members and Social Workers to connect with people experiencing homelessness creates a great sense of community. The Count provides the opportunity to understand the root causes that lead individuals to lose housing. It also shows the strength every person posses to face adversity and the caring nature of support individuals provide each other."


"I really appreciated the homeless count for showing me the various reasons why people can be homeless. It helped fostered my compassion and gave me a way to help this population especially those with mental health issues."


"It was a unique and memorable experience for me. Working with people from different fields and collaborating with various departments truly educated me a lot not only in the process of being a better social worker but also in personal growing up process. As a candidate social worker and who will  graduate in this coming May, I appreciate the opportunity to be involved in such a huge project, as well as the chance to witness the dynamic of managing teams."


I was fortunate enough to be a part of the 2018-2019 Los Angeles Homeless Count. Through this partnership, I had the opportunity to meet many beautiful souls in our community. These interactions helped me understand how important the Count is to fighting for the Grand Challenge to End Homelessness. Without acknowledging these individuals, we remain blind to the issues that create homelessness. However, the Count is a vital platform to give our community a voice and demonstrate that their input and their experiences must be heard. Together, we must fight on!


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