UPDATE: Ahmad Chapman of LAHSA returned a request for a comment this afternoon. He confirmed that WeHo did participate in the Homeless Count but could offer no information as far as who did the counting. He said whichever City Staff did the counting, they were trained in the manner of other volunteers. He said it is not out of the ordinary for certain cities to conduct “closed” counts, meaning volunteers were prohibited — it turns out West Hollywood’s count was “closed” last year as well. He said whether counts are “open” or “closed” does not affect the results. We asked him about the count’s accuracy, and shared one of the comments below about homeless people in tents and RVs not being counted, and he said the count would be as accurate as possible using their methods. The results of last night’s count will not be released for several months.
The countywide, weeklong Homeless Count was supposed to be conducted in West Hollywood last night, but unpublicized, last-minute changes and limited access left us unable to confirm whether it actually took place.
WEHOville arrived at City Hall at 8 p.m. last night, as directed by the LAHSA’s website, hoping to touch base with the 50 requested volunteers and organizers who were expected to spend the next four hours scouting and tracking homeless people in the city. But Jenny Ivanova, Strategic Initiative Specialist with the City of West Hollywood, told us no volunteers were allowed — that the count would instead be conducted by city staff.
We asked about the reason for the last-minute change; which staff members would instead be doing the counting; and how many of them were would there be.
Any further questions, Ivanova told us, would have to be directed to the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority.
Mayor Sepi Shyne and Mayor Pro Tem John Erickson were both seen briefly outside City Hall’s parking lot but neither made themselves available for comment. While they later posted a photo of themselves outside City Hall expressing pride in participating, it’s unclear in what capacity they did so. No city vehicles were seen leaving the premises, and there was no sign that the count ever began.
Photos on Twitter and Instagram show teams of volunteers and major activity last night in other locations such as Santa Monica and Mid-City. Earlier in the week, County Supervisor Lindsey Horvath, until recently a West Hollywood council member, shared photos of herself as part of a massive crowd preparing to conduct the count in Westwood.
No similar content has been found online depicting or referring to the count that was supposed to occur in West Hollywood on Thursday night.
WEHOville has reached out to Ahmad Chapman of LAHSA with questions.
The yearly count conducted by LAHSA collects data that is an “essential component in understanding the scope and nature of homelessness in Los Angeles County” and informs where tax dollars are spent.
Last year, volunteers counted only 46 homeless people in West Hollywood, which astounded residents who see dozens of unhoused individuals on a daily basis.