The number of homeless people living in Santa Monica has remained relatively steady compared with the previous year, according to the 2012 Homeless Count.
Approximately 200 volunteers scattered across Santa Monica on the night of Jan. 25 for a street-by-street count of homeless individuals that helps assess the effectiveness of the city’s efforts to address homelessness.
The citywide effort found a total of 769 homeless individuals, including 264 people on the streets, 453 in shelters and institutions, and 52 in cars/encampments. No unsheltered families were found during the count. The results were reported to the city Social Services Commission Feb. 27.
Last year’s count also showed relatively no change in the total homeless population, as 740 total individuals were tallied compared with 742 in 2010.
Officials noted that the number of those living on the streets in encampments or vehicles remained virtually flat in 2012 compared with the previous count, with an increase of just two to 316.
According to the human services division, the number of homeless counted in shelters or institutions increased by six percent over 2011, due primarily to a new temporary Upward Bound House Winter Shelter Program for homeless families.
Officials believe it is a testament to the efforts of the city and local service providers that the number of homeless individuals on the streets has not significantly increased despite adverse local and regional conditions that could have dramatically increased the count.
Such conditions include a sluggish economic recovery, and the recent enforcement of a curfew on the Venice Boardwalk which has displaced hundreds of homeless individuals.
Officials were particularly encouraged that no homeless families were observed on the streets, and said the 16 percent reduction in people found in the downtown area indicates that targeted outreach in the area has been effective.
While new homeless individuals may continue to migrate to Santa Monica, the city’s focus on permanent housing for chronically homeless Santa Monica residents through a housing-first model contributes to the “no-net gain” of the street homelessness count, according to the human services division.