This past January, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) hosted its annual Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Everyone from the front office of the Los Angeles Rams to Mayor Eric Garcetti participated in the 2020 count, and Greater Toluca Lake was no exception.
On the cold Tuesday night of January 21, retirees, parents of college kids, and executives from Disney, NBC and Netflix were just a few of the amazing volunteers who counted for Greater Toluca Lake. While Mayor Garcetti was gathering numbers on the other side of Magnolia at the North Hollywood count, 21 Greater Toluca Lakers deployed from Harmony on Cahuenga.
Prior to 2018, Greater Toluca Lake did not have a count of its own; our area was once counted along with North Hollywood, Universal City and Studio City. Due to rising homelessness — not only locally, but in Los Angeles County as a whole — former members of the Toluca Lake Homeless Committee expressed the need for our neighborhood to be among the more than 80 cities and 200 communities canvassed for the count, and we won LAHSA over. This was Greater Toluca Lake’s third year participating on our own, which makes it even more crucial to have people volunteer to canvass our area.
The Homeless Count runs in two parts and lasts three days and three nights. The initial count is led by local law enforcement and parks employees, who cover hidden brush areas. The second part of the count is when more than 8,000 charitable Angelenos hit the streets. Groups of two to four volunteers drive and walk different tracts, collecting data on how many tents, makeshift shelters, RVs and displaced people are in their specific location. LAHSA then tallies the final numbers and sends out local and county representatives to provide help where it is needed.
Homeless numbers in Council District 4 (Greater Toluca Lake’s district) rose 53% in 2019, while homelessness in L.A. County overall increased 12% — adding up to an estimated total of 58,936 people living on the streets. If this issue continues to be ignored, the numbers will keep increasing every year. It’s only because of the support of Homeless Count volunteers like our 21 Greater Toluca Lakers that city leaders, officials and advocates can be better equipped to help end the homelessness crisis. So hopefully, next year, you’ll count — exactly like our neighbors without homes. They count, too.
Special thanks to Jim Fitzpatrick of Toluca Lake for helping organize the 2020 Homeless Count. To volunteer for the 2021 Homeless Count or learn more about how to get involved in the effort to end homelessness, go to lahsa.org.