Scenes from the 2019 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count

Thousands of volunteers will fan out across the city and county of Los Angeles over the next three days for a count of the homeless that will serve as a barometer of how well government efforts to curb the population are working.

The annual Los Angeles homeless count has come to be defined by legions of volunteers who hit the pavement to help quantify this crisis.

Roughly 8,000 volunteers countywide participated in the count, which began Tuesday evening and ended Thursday, inspecting the region’s 2,160 census tracts. This team focused on riverbeds and places such as gated alleyways where volunteers might be at risk.

Last year’s count found 52,765 homeless people in Los Angeles County. The numbers help determine how money is disbursed throughout the region, including $350 million in sales tax revenue generated annually from the Measure H homelessness tax, which was passed in 2017.

“The count provides us with a profile of the state of homelessness,” Tom Waldman, a spokesman for the homeless authority, said “There are parts of the homeless population that are stable in the sense that they stay in a particular place, but this count helps us see shifts.”

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