Santa Monica’s homeless population has increased from last year, according to the findings the City of Santa Monica presented at the Social Services Commission meeting on Monday night.
Overall, the Citywide 2013 Homeless Count, which was held Jan. 30, showed an increase in the total sheltered and unsheltered homeless population of one percent from 2012.
According to the findings, there have been significant increases in unsheltered individuals and people in vehicles that resulted in an overall increase in the street count of 20.
At the same time, the number of people in shelters decreased by 12 percent largely due to the reduced reliance on Santa Monica motels as emergency housing.
Families utilizing county-funded motel vouchers were housed outside of Santa Monica and were counted as part of the Los Angeles County point-in-time count.
This programmatic change has no correlation to the change in street population, as no families were found during the street count.
· The point-in-time homeless count found 780 individuals, compared to 769 in 2012.
· Unsheltered street homeless population is 316, an increase of 20 percent from 2012
· Individuals sleeping in vehicles numbered 57, an increase of 27 percent from 2012
· Shelter and institution population is 453, a reduction of 12 percent from 2012
While this increase is significant, the City says the rate of homelessness today is still well below the levels seen prior to 2008, when the City implemented the Action Plan to Address Homelessness.
The Action Plan will continue to provide guidance as the community responds to this increased need.
In the coming months, the City will refocus efforts around key actions that will identify and house those individuals known to have been in Santa Monica the longest, while re-directing individuals who are new to this community back to resources in their hometowns.
This will take the collaborative efforts of City departments, non-profit partners and residents and property owners. Specifically, the Human Services Division will coordinate with the Santa Monica Police Department, local businesses and social services providers to assess new “hot spots” – areas in the City where larger numbers of unsheltered individuals were found – and coordinate services to engage these individuals and identify appropriate housing.
The City will also work with local non-profits who receive City funding to ensure that local resources are dedicated to individuals who remain un-housed and have been on the City’s by-name Service Registry.
For those new to the area, City staff will coordinate efforts with regional partners to use County and other non-City of Santa Monica resources to link new arrivals to services.
In addition, the Police Department will incorporate the Homeless Liaison Program (HLP) team model into frontline patrol duties to expand its reach and to provide greater awareness of shifts in the homeless population.
The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development requires communities receiving federal homelessness funds to conduct a count every two years.
More than 250 volunteers and city staff canvassed each street and alley in Santa Monica on Jan. 30 to tally homeless individuals encountered on the street, along with every car, RV, tent or box in which someone appeared to be living.
Homeless individuals in shelters, jails, motels and hospitals were also counted.
Santa Monica’s participation was part of the largest homeless count in the country, conducted throughout Los Angeles County by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA).
LAHSA is expected to release county-wide findings of the 2013 point-in-time count in the summer of 2013, which may further inform Santa Monica’s results.
For more information about the event and the City of Santa Monica’s Action Plan on Homelessness, visit www.smgov.net/homelessness.