By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff 

Santa Monica Homeless Count Shows More Homeless Unsheltered on the Street

107 less homeless individuals found shelter in Santa Monica during the 2022 homeless count than in 2020

 

Elaine Golden-Gealer

Douglas Park - city residents have noticed the parks have been taken over by homeless

May 12, 2022 - The 2022 Homeless Count was released by the City of Santa Monica on May 5, approximately two-and-a-half months after it was conducted on February 23. While the absolute number of homeless was 807, or 100 less than the last count of 907 homeless individuals in 2020, this was due to a decrease in available shelter beds under Covid-19 restrictions. More homeless were found outside, unsheltered, than in 2020.

The number of people living in vehicles, tents, and makeshift shelters grew from 99 to 135 in the last two years, an increase of 36%. The number of homeless sleeping downtown went from 214 to 246, an increase of 14%. Meanwhile, the shelters housed 83 less individuals, the hospitals served 13 less, and 11 less were in jail.

Graph from the staff report for the Santa Monica City Council

According to the staff report to the SM City Council, the homeless count was conducted between 11 pm and 3 am, sending staff and volunteers into "every street, alley, and park." If nobody went into the public parking garages, then a significant number of homeless living in those areas would not have been counted. Homeless use the stairways, the elevators, and the dumpster rooms as their residences.

According to a city-cited 2019 report by the California Policy Lab, 84% of homeless people have physical health conditions, 78% have mental health conditions, and 75% have substance abuse issues.

Last year, the city's "multi-disciplinary outreach teams" made 11,000 contacts with homeless individuals and ended up placing 57 in interim housing and 24 into permanent housing. With 807 homeless individuals in Santa Monica, that averages 13 contacts per homeless. Meanwhile, the 81 individuals placed in some sort of housing were replaced by even more homeless individuals on the street, according to the homeless count.

 

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