March 2, 2016 12:11 PM
SANTA MONICA – Results are in from the January 27, 2016 Homeless Count—Santa Monica’s annual all-night count and needs assessment of the community’s homeless population. Count results, which were shared at the March 1 City Council meeting, show a small decrease in the overall homeless population and an increase in transiency. Here are the count totals:
- Point-in-time total: 728 (738 in 2015 – 1% decrease)
- Street total: 416 (402 in 2015 – 3% increase)
- Vehicle/encampment dwellers*: 73 (no change from 2015) *Included within street total
- Shelter/institution: 312 (336 in 2015 – 7% decrease)
The total number of homeless individuals continues to incrementally decline from previous years while the number of unsheltered individuals has slowly increased. This is reflective of the increasing numbers across L.A. County, where homelessness has increased 12% between 2013 and 2015, with unsheltered individuals increasing by 23%. Local results will be informed by countywide count results released later this year by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
In addition to the one-night street and shelter count, the City conducted brief surveys of unsheltered individuals over three nights in several locations including downtown, Palisades Park and the beach. The self-reported responses provided by 133 individuals found that:
- 3% of individuals have spent the entirety of their homeless experience in Santa Monica
- 52% report arriving in town from elsewhere in L.A. County
- 29% came to Santa Monica from out of state
- 25% of individuals reported being in Santa Monica less than one month, and an additional 30% reported being in the City between one and 12 months
This increasing transitory population supports anecdotal reports from service providers and first responders. Relatively short stay in Santa Monica are contrasted by the length of individuals’ homeless experience overall, with 62% of respondents reporting to be homeless for 1 year or more, nearly half of whom reported being homeless for five years or more. This increasingly transitory population and the extended chronicity of their homeless experience may also be contributing to a reduction in the use of local shelters, which is reflected in the steady decline in the number of individuals in shelters since 2013.
The City’s response to homelessness continues to be guided by the Action Plan to Address Homelessness, implemented by the City in 2008, which has helped to maintain reductions in homelessness achieved in 2010 while homelessness has increased across the region. The City Council affirmed their commitment to this issue by identifying homelessness as one of the five Council adopted strategic goals. An interdepartmental work group will be re-evaluating The Action Plan for update which will include new approaches to address the changing homeless population, as identified in the data from Homeless Count and surveys. City Council has already committed additional resources to help jump-start these new strategies, including funding for a medical and behavioral health interdisciplinary street-based treatment team and resources to help prevent vulnerable older adults from becoming homeless through eviction intervention. The City will also reinforce the unique interdepartmental coordination amongst Community and Cultural Services, Santa Monica Police Department, Santa Monica Fire Department, City Attorney’s Office and Housing and Economic Development, in partnership with local social service agencies that continues to connect people from the streets into services and housing.
About the Count
Homeless counts are mandated every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Santa Monica counts annually to rapidly identify and respond to changing population trends. To conduct the Count, over 250 community volunteers and City staff covered each street in Santa Monica – a total of 226 linear miles – to tally homeless individuals sleeping outdoors, as well as in cars, RVs, and tents. Homeless persons in shelters, jails and hospitals were also counted at each facility. The Count is conducted overnight to better identify individuals sleeping in the City, and represents the number of people identified as experiencing homelessness on a single night. The Count is not a cumulative number of people who may experience homelessness throughout the year, nor does it accurately represent the number of homeless people who may be present in the City during daytime hours, but sleep elsewhere.
For more information, visit smgov.net/homelessness.
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