A past-midnight start didn’t deter the 300+ volunteers who turned out to help Santa Monica’s homeless by way of the Annual Homeless Count Wednesday night. Now in its fifth year, the count plays a crucial role in resource allocation, funds appropriation and solution management in the City.
“It’s the most eye-opening experience,” said five-year veteran volunteer, Team Captain Lynne Thomas. “Tonight is the night where you go round and you see; Number 1 – have we fought it?, Number 2, what areas do we need to focus on?”
The evening began with an energetic training session, with teams gathering and enjoying the comradery of neighbors and friends. “It was inspiring to see 200 volunteers from diverse sectors of our community gather late at night for this critical effort,” commented Mayor Pro-Tem Ted Winterer, who addressed the volunteers before the count began.
“I am always impressed with the diversity and enthusiasm of the residents, young and old, who support this effort,” said Councilwoman Sue Himmelrich, rugged up for the evening. “Based on my observation last night in the streets, the problem is growing worse, and we need to find new and better strategies for housing for all.”
Thomas agreed that it’s more than simply providing a bed for the homeless, “Are we getting them resumes, jobs, places to live, getting them on their feet?” she said.
Information gathered by the volunteers allows the City to provide an assessment based on data that enables them to acquire more funding to help to support programs and activities that the City has in an effort to gain more housing for the homeless, Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks told The Mirror.
“What we strive to do is create that bridge of services that moves people along from living in the street to potentially being on the pathway to being housed,” she said.
The 2015 Homeless Count registered 738 homeless people in Santa Monica, 2014 saw 742 recorded.