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Volunteers to participate in upcoming Westwood Homeless Count 2024

Pictured are volunteers for the Westwood Homeless Count 2023. This year's homeless count will take place Jan. 24, starting at the Westwood Presbyterian Church. (Daily Bruin file photo)

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority will lead volunteers through Westwood to conduct the annual Greater LA Homeless Count on Jan. 24.

Lisa Chapman, the co-chair of the Westwood Homeless Count, said the count is important in ensuring each area receives the funding needed to mitigate homelessness. The Westwood Homeless Count, which starts at the Westwood Presbyterian Church, is part of the annual LA Homeless Service Authority’s Greater LA Homeless Count that occurs from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

“It’s really telling us how things stand right now in regards to homelessness,” Chapman said. “It also is a precursor to being able to bring in federal money and state money to areas that need it the most.”

Last year’s count showed a 9% increase in homelessness in the county and a 10% rise in the city.

[Related: Westwood community members contribute efforts for the Greater LA Homeless Count]

The Greater LA Homeless Count is currently accepting volunteers for the Westwood Homeless Count, with several of the 150 volunteer spots still open. The count will begin at 9:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 and will end around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 25.

Chapman, who is also president of the Westwood Neighborhood Council – which borders the North Westwood Neighborhood Council – said the night will begin with a Q&A session at the Westwood Presbyterian Church, where volunteers will be able to ask questions about the required online training session. Community representatives will speak, and groups will be created and sent to different areas of Westwood.

Each team will consist of around four volunteers and will be given flashlights and high-visibility vests if desired.

Volunteers will use an app called ArcGIS QuickCapture to tally the number of people experiencing homelessness they see, which was used for the second time last year.

Chantelle Eastman, the assistant chair of the Westwood Homeless Count, said it is important to have enough volunteers to ensure the count runs as smoothly as possible.

“We really strive to have closer to 150,” Eastman said. “We want people to be in a good-sized number group for safety reasons and then also so that we can get everyone home at a more decent hour.”

Steven Sann, the co-chair of the Westwood Homeless Count, said volunteers can expect staff from Councilmember Katy Yaroslavsky’s office to join.

Sann, who is also the chair of the Westwood Community Council – a nongovernmental board that represents Westwood stakeholders – added that there will be a meal, snacks and other refreshments available for volunteers.

He said the count is important in ensuring politicians can advocate for their community in getting additional resources.

“Having these numbers gives us a base data point for our elected officials, our congress members, our senators, our state assembly and Senate members to go and advocate to the federal government saying, ‘We need more resources in Los Angeles,’” Sann said.

City and Crime Editor

Steinman is the 2023-2024 city and crime editor. She was previously a city and crime contributor. She is also a fourth-year political science student.

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