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Venice Update

News of Venice, CA and Marina del Rey CA

LAHSA Defends Homeless Count

By Darryl DuFay

Over the past couple of years we have discussed the validity of the Annual Homeless Count/Survey. Now some questions are being asked about both.  Maybe we will get some answers, but not very hopeful since everyone involved has a vested interest.  Some interesting questions were brought out in LA Times article.

The Count/Survey is taken in two parts:  a Street Count, and Demographic Surveywhich has two separate groups – Adult and Youth (18-24).  

The Street Count in taken on one-day in the last two weeks of January.  The count is taken in the evening and no questions are allowed to be asked of the homeless.  The surveyors are all volunteers. Most survey from a car.  Just observational.  No one can or wants to validate what results are turned in.

The Demographic Surveys are taken by trained personnel from LAHSA.  This is the Survey where they get the data for their reports. They start this process in late January and can continue into February.  Can be taken in the daytime or nighttime. They sit down with the homeless person. Surveys are administered to approximately 20% of the homeless number.  They have separate survey forms for each group.  It is all voluntary for the homeless person.  No ID is asked for.  No names are asked.  Just initials may be taken but not verified.  No addresses because they are homeless.  Adults get a $5 Subway card.  Youth’s get a $10 MacDonald’s or Subway card.

The whole process besides the cards is kind of like the “stated incomes” that brought down the real estate markets in 2008.  “We ask, you tell, we don’t check on what you say, you get the money or a benefit.”  There are many unanswered questions about the validity of the whole Street Count and Demographic Survey procedures.

In the article most of the complaints are that the true number of the Street Count is undercounted. Others question, not in the article, the lax way the survey is taken with a reliance on guessing about how many are in a tent, shelter, vehicle, or on the ground under a blanket, etc.  They are not allowed to disturb the people and cannot use a flashlight.  Remember it is night time!


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