On January 24, volunteers came together at Harmony Toluca Lake on Cahuenga for the Toluca Lake Homeless Count. The counters used a mobile app to collect important information on those experiencing homelessness in our neighborhood. While final results won’t be known until summer, conducting the Homeless Count is crucial to gauge if some of Los Angeles’ many efforts to reduce the number of homeless residents in the county have paid off.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which started the annual Homeless Count in 2005, relies on thousands of volunteers to collect these demographic and numeric counts to determine where homeless services — like housing, shelter and food — are needed. To LAHSA Director of Communications Ahmad Chapman, the importance of the Homeless Count cannot be overstated. “Government agencies, including LAHSA, use this important data that’s collected during the Homeless Count to develop strategies to end homelessness and determine where funding and resources will do the most good,” he says.
According to LAHSA, there were an estimated 69,144 people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County last year, a 4.1% rise from 2020, and 41,980 people were experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles, up 1.7% from 2020. (A count was not conducted in 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.)
The results of the 2022 point-in-time count, conducted over three nights in February, suggest that homelessness may be rising more slowly than in previous years, where L.A. County saw a 25.9% increase and the city of Los Angeles experienced a 32% increase between 2018 and 2020. Part of the reason for the drop could be due to the 62% increase in shelter beds since 2019, as well as innovative non-congregate shelter programs like Project Roomkey and Project Homekey, which led to L.A. County seeing a 12% increase in its sheltered population (20,596 people) over 2020.
Black individuals continue to make up a disproportionate share of the unhoused, but Latinos are experiencing a rise in homelessness that outpaces other groups. Latinos now make up 44.5% of the county’s homeless population — a 26% increase since 2020. LAHSA’s report also underscores the impact of the mental health crisis on homelessness. Around 40% of unhoused individuals report they live with a serious mental illness or substance use disorder.