The new year of 2020 seems to be a time for counting people.
We have the Census taking place this year and it’s also time to count homeless people in Los Angeles County.
Though it may seem like a strange task, the Census and the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count both serve a greater purpose than just counting heads.
By tallying the number of people in a certain area, the Census helps ensure that money is available for resources and programs that will benefit people in that area.
The census, held every 10 years and required by the U.S. Constitution, tallies the nation’s population — data that is used in determining the number of representatives for each state in the House of Representatives and for allocating some $675 billion annually, in funding, for programs which impact residents in areas from Medicare to highway funding, child nutrition to education.
Counting the homeless serves a similar purpose. Figuring out how many homeless are living in the Antelope Valley will help officials better direct outreach efforts.
As you can imagine, the task of counting the homeless is a great one. The count will be conducted Jan. 21-23 in Los Angeles County. In the Antelope Valley, it will take place from 6-9 a.m., Jan. 23 and hundreds of volunteers are still needed to help the 106 that have already signed up.
The homeless count is mandated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and coordinated by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, according to a report in the Monday edition of the Antelope Valley Press.
Although HUD requires the count every two years, Los Angeles county conducts it annually, to make sure the most accurate data is on file.
In the Antelope Valley, the deployment sites include: Acton, Antelope Valley College, Lake Los Angeles, Leona Valley/Lake Elizabeth; East, West, South and Central Lancaster; Littlerock/Sun Village and East and West Palmdale.
Those who wish to volunteer must be at least 18 years old. Volunteers usually work in teams of two. They set out to identify and count people in their assigned area. This means they count homeless people by conducting visual counts of people living on the streets, in tents, in cars or in makeshift shelters.
Last year’s count showed that the Antelope Valley’s homeless population had increased by 2.8%, to 3,293 homeless.
But the homeless count isn’t the only effort seeking volunteers. The Census is also looking for help.
Los Angeles County is said to be the most difficult in the nation to count because of a number of housing, socioeconomic and demographic factors.
In an effort to make sure everyone gets counted, Goodwill Census Ambassadors training is being offered for those who are interested in engaging the community with census outreach. In addition, several organizations are joining the effort, to include SALVA and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
But it’s not just volunteers that are needed. The U.S. Census Bureau is also hiring for a variety of paid positions, for which wages range from $15-$25 an hour. So if you’re interested in helping with the census, you could get paid for it.
If you have some time and would like to get involved, this is a good way to get outdoors and get some exercise and fresh air, while doing a good deed for your community.