Covering Santa Monica end to end for the first time, community volunteers set out Tuesday night, January 27th, for a citywide count of the number of homeless people sleeping on the streets.

Approximately 200 community volunteers were registered for the city’s data-collection effort. This year, for the first time, the City of Santa Monica expanded its involvement in the biennial Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority count project and partnered with the Homeless Services Authority to conduct the citywide direct street count in all 19 of Santa Monica’s census tracts, said Stacy Rowe, city human services administrator.

The last time the Homeless Services Authority conducted the homeless count in 2007, volunteers were sent to only 12 of the city’s 19 census tracts. This year volunteer teams traveled to every street and alley in the city and tallied people sleeping outside, in makeshift shelters and in vehicles. At the same time, a census was conducted in shelters, hospitals, jails and some motels.

“We were really thrilled about the number of volunteers who came out,” Rowe said. “We did a complete enumeration of the entire city.”

A citywide direct street count removes projections and results in as accurate a count as possible, human services administrators said. The data from the count will have many uses including helping define Santa Monica’s fair share, directing resources and shaping the city’s innovative and compassionate programs that engage homeless people in services, assist them to become stable and move them off the streets and into appropriate housing, Rowe said.

The city plans to release a report of the citywide homeless count at a Social Services Commission meeting Monday, February 23rd.

At about 10 p.m. January 27th, volunteers gathered at the Ken Edwards Center and Virginia Avenue Park and fanned out across the city to count the individuals they saw on the streets. Police personnel helped provide security for the street count.

The count is a project of the city’s Human Services Division, which provides and supports social service, recreation, education and community programs addressing the needs of various groups, including those who are homeless. The Human Services Division is part of the city’s Community and Cultural Services Department.

Information, www.homelessnessaction.smgov.net/ or (310) 458-8701.

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