Long Beach needs volunteers for biennial Homeless Count

Every other year (that’s what biennial means), volunteers in Long Beach wake up before the crack of dawn to canvass the city and survey people experiencing homelessness.

And 2019 is no different: The city needs volunteers to help conduct the ninth biennial count on Jan. 24. Those interested need to register online before 5 p.m. Jan. 11, according to a release from the city.

“The Homeless Count is a great opportunity for community members to participate in a citywide outreach effort to some of our most vulnerable residents,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Volunteers will learn about services available to assist people experiencing homelessness, meet service providers, and interact with others invested in the solution to end homelessness in our city.”

According to the last six counts, the number of people experiencing homelessness has trended steadily downward. In 2017, a total of 1,863 individuals living in emergency shelters, transitional housing, and living in places not meant for human habitation such as parks, beaches and vehicles, were counted, the release said.

The count is required by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine the scope of homelessness, defining the existing resources available and identifying any gaps.

During the count, the city conducts a residential-based count of all people living in emergency and transitional housing programs in Long Beach and a street-based count of people living without shelter.

Long Beach is divided into 47 geographic information system (GIS) mapped segments that volunteers canvass in teams of three to five during the street-based count.

Registered participants are asked to arrive at 4 a.m. at the Multi-Service Center at 1301 W. 12th Street in Long Beach. Teams are deployed from there at 5 a.m. The teams include community volunteers, service providers and homeless program participants who all survey people experiencing homelessness in each area. It takes about three to four hours to canvass each segment.

Count participants must be 18 or older and have to attend an hour-long orientation training before Jan. 24. There is no same-day training on the day of the count.

There are eight training sessions at the Multi-Service Center:

  • Monday, Jan. 14, at 1 p.m.
  • Monday, Jan. 14, at 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 17, at 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 17, at 6 p.m.

Those interested can contact Elsa Ramos at [email protected] or 562-570-4588 for more information on how to register.

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband, Steven, and her cat/child, Jones.