Santa Monica Homeless Count results are in

On the night of January 26, 2011, Santa Monica conducted its annual street-by-street enumeration of chronically homeless individuals. Two hundred volunteers and city staff echoed across the Santa Monica district, 226 linear miles, to conduct a thorough authoritative analysis of homeless people. On February 28, the results were addressed in a presentation at the Santa Monica Civic Center.

Maggie Willis of Human Services made the presentation regarding the count. She began by stating that none of the statistics would be possible without the "many people willing to collect the data, the strong presence of our impressive local service providers, civic minded community members who allowed us to cover every block, [every alley and] every street in the city."

The result presentation is intended to provide an understanding of how the numbers were collected and how they wavered with the 2009 and 2010 results. The homeless street population, shelter and institutions, jails, motels, hospitals, and cars and encampments population are all collected.

The data presented by Human Services and Commissioners concluded that homelessness decreased 18.9 percent between 2009 and 2010 and 25 percent between 2007 and 2010.

The numbers have not fluctuated between 2010 and 2011. The population is nearly static from 2010. The 2007 total of homeless population was 999. In 2009 the total was 915, an 8% reduction over 2007.

In 2010, the total was 742, an 18.9% reduction over 2009 and 25% reduction over 2007.

And in 2011, the total is 740, which sustained the reduction of previous years. This includes street homeless population of 263, a shelter and institutions population of 426 individuals, and 51 cars and encampments.

The street count identified no entire families to be unsheltered. Of the sheltered population, 101 (24 percent) were identified as members of families. The findings show the homeless population has declined 18.9% from 2009 and remains static.

The question posed during the results presentation was how to keep homelessness from inclining. The council believes it is the help of the local community and officials that make it happen. It is through shelter and housing resources that give homeless individuals the opportunity to live in an apartment or home, if they choose to.

In Santa Monica there are currently 459 shelters and transitional housing beds, and approximately 393 permanent, supportive housing beds, totaling 852.

Almost 300 permanent supportive housing opportunities are available to disabled homeless individuals and families, plus 58 emergency, transition and "safe haven" beds are reserved for mentally ill individuals. Santa Monica officials say it is crucial to serve those who are chronically homeless, especially the mentally ill and drug substance abusers.

The Council's goal is to use television and newsletters to inform the community on the causes and impacts of homelessness. In addition, a program entitled "The Eviction Prevention & Re-Housing Assistance" aids in serving low-income Santa Monica residents who are at risk of losing their home due to the financial crisis.

Meanwhile, the service registry specializes in assisting chronically homeless individuals who have been on Santa Monica's streets for an extended period of time, many Vietnam veterans.