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Housing and Homelessness

Following Accuracy Concerns, LA’s City Council Advances Plan To Audit Homeless Count

Two tents next to each other on a sidewalk in Hollywood
Two tents on a sidewalk in Hollywood.
(Ethan Ward
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The L.A. City Council voted on Tuesday to instruct city staff to explore options for conducting a “multi-year audit” of previous homeless counts. The council also voted to explore selecting a third party to carry out future surveys of people living on the streets, in cars and in shelters across the city.

The backstory: The vote comes in the midst of a housing crisis that only continues to grow. This fall council members questioned the accuracy of the region’s annual homeless count after reports emerged of volunteers struggling to use a glitchy new smartphone app, and huge homelessness spikes were seen in certain city council districts along with hard-to-believe drops in others.

Why it matters: The council’s move could spell big changes for an annual survey that guides funding and policy decisions for L.A.’s growing homelessness crisis. This year’s count showed a 1.7% increase across the city since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The count showed that on any given night almost 42,000 people experience homelessness in the city of L.A.

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What’s next: The city’s administrative officer will need to report back on possibilities for carrying out audits and conducting future counts before the council makes any final decisions on whether to move forward.

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