Every two years, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) holds a countywide tally of all homeless residents. It’s a daunting task that places 4,000 volunteers across Los Angeles County for one night, counting homeless residents block by block. The count, which tallied almost 50,000 homeless Los Angeles residents in 2009, provides data that determines how to distribute the approximately $74 million in national, state, and local funds for vital services, housing help, and community outreach.
Elizabeth Morasso, a social worker at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, was a graduate student at the UCLA School of Public Affairs when she participated in the 2009 count. She says, “The homeless count is ‘hands on’ advocacy and participation is crucial, especially in light of the current financial and political climate. I took part in the homeless count to bring attention to inequities in resource allocation and to show support for homelessness and housing issues in general.”
Event organizers of the The Los Angeles Homeless Count just tweeted that they still need 1,000 volunteers. You can sign up to be a counter, trainer, leader, or even a gopher at TheyWillCountYou.org–and the best part is, there’s help needed right in your neighborhood. From the site:
“Volunteers will gather at deployment sites in communities across Greater Los Angeles to receive training and then go out in teams by car, bike or on foot, to visually count the number of homeless persons living in a specified area.”