Tuesday, January 22, was a cold and windy night, but the small group of neighbors who volunteered to help with the second annual Toluca Lake Homeless Count were determined in their efforts. Gathering once again at Harmony Toluca Lake, they donned safety vests and carried flashlights to take part in the annual Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority Homeless Count.
Each year, LAHSA utilizes thousands of volunteers to count the number of homeless people spotted in every census tract across the city and county. The regional coordinator for LAHSA, Silvana Caruana, says, “The Count helps give [LAHSA] an accurate picture of the state of homelessness in Los Angeles County and delivers programs where they are needed most. It also enables us to see shifts from year to year in the population of people experiencing homelessness.”
Good news first: In 2018, homelessness declined 3% for the county and 5% for the city. Even our Council District 4 — which spans from Koreatown to Hollywood and parts of Sherman Oaks — found a decrease of 1%. Yet the homeless population in our overall Service Planning Area 2 — which serves the communities of Burbank, Calabasas, Encino, Glendale and more — increased 5% from 2017. While 2019 Homeless Count results won’t be released until May, our volunteers noted an uptick in encampments and vehicle dwelling during this year’s Count. So the bad news is that there’s still a long way to go before homelessness is eradicated, especially in our area.
Caruana goes on to say, “It’s critically important to have all communities across L.A. County actively participate in the Count. We are gratified to see the response from communities such as Toluca Lake. We are all working together to count — and help — our homeless neighbors.”
We couldn’t be prouder of our community for working to help eradicate homelessness. Thank you to everyone across Los Angeles who participated in this year’s Homeless Count. A very special thanks to Mark Stephenson and Melissa Perrigo of Harmony Toluca Lake, and to the Riverside and Talofa Toluca Lake Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for the generous coffee donation to help keep volunteers warm and awake for the night.
If you’re interested in joining us next year, go to theycountwillyou.org for more information.