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Volunteers Sought for Homeless Count

Jan 15, 2019 04:20PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Photo via Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count

Curious about the hot-button issue of homelessness in Manhattan Beach? Now's the time to volunteer to participate in the annual count of those experiencing homelessness in the city, led by the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.

The homeless count for Manhattan Beach will take place on Wednesday, January 23, from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m. Volunteers will work in teams of two to three people to cover a specific census tract within the city and identify and tally homeless individuals. Those who are involved in the count will just be tallying from a respectful distance, not interacting with homeless individuals.

Volunteers will meet at the Joslyn Community Center to get a briefing on the procedure and receive assignments. All volunteers must be age 18 or over.

To volunteer, sign up at this link.

At the moment, 19 volunteers are signed up for 40 available slots. "Some volunteers may be deployed to El Segundo since their count is also being conducted from the Joslyn Center," said George Gabriel, senior management analyst and homelessness liaison for the city of Manhattan Beach, "but ideally, I’d like all Manhattan Beach volunteers to assist the count in Manhattan Beach."

Homelessness in Manhattan Beach

The homelessness issue has been a top priority for many residents, especially as the total count appears to be increasing.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's 2018 annual homeless count found a total of 41 "unsheltered" individuals in Manhattan Beach, compared with only 7 counted in the 2017 survey. However, officials have noted that there were more volunteers helping with the count in 2018 than there had been in previous years.

In response to increased concerns and awareness, Manhattan Beach has ramped up its discussions and actions on homelessness in the past year.

Through Los Angeles County's Measure H, Manhattan Beach last year received a $30,000 grant to address concerns of homelessness. In August, the city approved a five-year "Plan to Address Homelessness in Our Community."

Although the city has a relatively small homeless population, the city "elected to participate in the Measure H planning process because it sees homelessness as a regional problem, and wants to be part of regional solutions," according to the plan.

In September, the city of Manhattan Beach enacted an "anti-camping" ordinance, which prohibits "camping and storing personal property in public areas."

To assist in the fair and humane implementation of that policy, the city designated a homelessness liaison that reports directly to the city manager, created a homeless task force, established coordination with regional homeless care services and area shelters, and secured additional mental health clinician hours. According to the new policy, if the city has arranged for adequate and available shelter and an individual chooses not to use it, the city will enforce the new ordinance.

The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count

The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is led by the The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), which  was created in 1993 to address the problems of homelessness in the city and county of Los Angeles. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages over $300 million annually in federal, state, county, and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing, and services to people experiencing homelessness.

LAHSA has coordinated the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count since 2005. The data collected during the homeless count helps identify and direct where resources are needed the most.

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