The City of Santa Monica presented the findings of the Citywide 2015 Homeless Count at the Social Services Commission meeting on Feb 23.
The point-in-time homeless count found 738 individuals, a decrease from 742 (0.5%) in 2014.
— The street count is 402, an increase from 346 (16 percent) in 2014.
— Within the street count, occupied vehicles & encampments numbered 73, an increase from 57 (28 percent) in 2014.
— Shelter and institution population is 336, a decrease from 396 (15 percent) in 2014.
While the total point-in-time count of homeless individuals identified on a single night in January has remained stable since 2014, there was a significant increase in the number of unsheltered individuals on the streets and in cars.
Despite this increase, street homelessness is down 16 percent from the baseline set by the 2009 Count of 480 unsheltered individuals.
While the count methodology does not provide any identifying or demographic information about the people counted, anecdotal reports from service providers and first responders suggest that the population is shifting from individuals that are long-term homeless in Santa Monica to a much more transitory population, newly arrived and quick to move on.
City staff will be working to develop new strategies to respond to this change, and will be working with community partners to gather more information about the current street population, including where they became homeless.
The shelter count was impacted this year by planned renovations at two housing programs.
Those beds were closed gradually over time, as participants left the program to other housing options.
There is no direct correlation between the reduction of beds and the increase in individuals found on the street.
The results of Santa Monica’s count will be further informed by the results of the County-wide counts conducted during the last week of January.
Those results will be released later this year by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
The City’s response to homelessness continues to be guided by the Action Plan to Address Homelessness, implemented by the City in 2008.
The Action Plan defines the City’s priority homeless population which includes those individuals who have a well-known presence in Santa Monica for five years or more; were permanently housed in Santa Monica at the time they became homeless; are members of the local workforce; or are high-users of City emergency services.
The Action Plan is scheduled to be updated and presented for public review in 2015, and will include new strategies to address the changing homeless population.
The Action Plan will continue to emphasize coordination with local service providers to engage individuals, identify housing and ensure that local resources are dedicated to the City’s priority population.
The City’s unique interdepartmental coordination between 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 continues to connect people from the streets into services and housing.
Homeless counts are mandated every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Santa Monica conducts counts annually in order to more rapidly identify and respond to homeless population trends.
On Jan. 28, 2015, 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 by staff at each facility in the City.
More information about the event and the City’s homeless initiatives: www.smgov.net/homelessness.