by David DeMullé
Volunteers gathered at the North Valley City Hall last Thursday night to receive training and conduct the 2018 Homeless Count. Under direction of the L.A. Home
less Services Authority, the 40 volunteers went through the training process. At 9 p.m., the volunteers hit the streets.
Their mantra is:
• Who Do We Count? Homeless People: Individuals, Families & Youth.
• How many vehicles are used as homes? The number of tents and shelters.
You will maintain a RESPECTFUL DISTANCE from the people and their camps. All volunteers were given maps with specific areas mapped out for them to conduct their count.
The last Homeless Survey was conducted in 2017 with great fanfare and little positive results. Then Councilmember Richard Alarcon promised to publish the survey results within 30 days, but it was almost 6 months later that the flawed results were presented.
This survey covered all of Sunland- Tujunga, but not the Big Tujunga Wash or areas known to be dangerous. When asked, one of the trainers stated, “We don’t get close to them. We try not to disturb them, we don’t want to be intrusive. We respect their privacy.”
This Homeless Survey is important to the City of Los Angeles and to Sunland- Tujunga in that when the figures are tallied, it determines the amount of federal funds that will come to Los Angeles to help resolve the homeless situation, create housing or provide services.
At the last count in 2013, Los Angeles had approximately 39,500 homeless people. If you include those camping or staying with someone, the figure jumps to 60,000. Those who are informed about the Sunland-Tujunga homeless population were dismayed at the lack of coordinated effort to actually go into the homeless camps outside of residential neighborhoods.
“But it is better than not doing it at all,” stated one volunteer. One of the major points that the homeless count was trying to address was to locate and determine an actual count of local homeless veterans.
The count will be tallied and added to the overall L.A. Homeless Count and presented to the federal agencies that oversee such events – and not much will come of it. It is only by LOCAL action that the homeless can be helped. Agencies such as Pattee Colvin’s MAKING IT HAPPEN are the real facilitators in getting the homeless into safe housing environments and getting the medical care they need to survive.
For more information on who is making a difference in Sunland-Tujunga, email Pattee at pattee.colvin@ makingithappeninc.org.