LOS ANGELES, CA — The apparent inaccuracy of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2022 homeless count, conducted in February, led residents to question if the annual point-in-time count really helps the city tackle the homeless crisis.
Many members of the Los Angeles City Council questioned the new count’s findings, which tell a confusing story in many districts where hundreds of shelter beds and projects were opened to combat homelessness. Councilman Kevin de León specifically wondered how the count could find 231 fewer people in shelters in his Northeast district, yet there were 1,818 more people on the street.
Though a statement released by LAHSA on Friday doubled down on the integrity of the count, residents and professional surveyors from Rand Corp. said their own tallies don’t reflect the same results.
“During the Count, we received several reports of user and technological errors resulting from a lack of training and poor internet connectivity,” said Ahmad Chapman, LAHSA’s communications director, in the statement. “Despite these errors, we are confident in the accuracy of this year’s homeless Count because LAHSA and its partners took several steps to account for what was happening in the field.”
This week, Council President Nury Martinez introduced two motions calling for an audit of this year’s count, counts of prior years and an evaluation of whether future counts should be handled by a third party.
Martinez’s motions cite the citywide disparities in the count compared to the last one conducted in 2020. The most extreme differences were shown in a west San Fernando Valley district, showing an 80 percent increase, and in the Westside district, which includes Venice, which shows a 40 percent decrease.
Councilman Bob Blumenfield told the LA Times that he was mystified by the 60 percent increase in unsheltered people shown in his district in the San Fernando Valley despite more than 200 people moving off the street and into a shelter.
“I go out in our community for homeless outreach at least once a month, and my staff is on the streets every day,” Blumenfield said in a statement. “The increase of people who are unsheltered per the LAHSA Count does not reflect the reality that we see. More transparency over this process would be incredibly welcomed because we are simply not getting answers that add up.”
In the northwest corner of Venice, LAHSA reported no unsheltered people despite it being known as a place with a heavy density of homelessness. In 2020 LAHSA reported more than 500 people were unsheltered in the same area.
The questionable numbers shown in the Venice count would take the reported decrease of 38.5 percent, which Councilman Mike Bonin credited to “the largest and most successful place-based homelessness intervention programs in Los Angeles, moving nearly 300 people indoors from tents on Venice Beach and in Westchester Park,” on Twitter to a 29 percent improvement.
Still, residents who see streets lined with RVs and tents say their confidence in the count is dwindling, and suggest a different method is needed to better represent the homeless population.
Read more from the Los Angeles Times: Los Angeles homeless count raises doubts about accuracy. Is it time for a new way?