The exact counts are debatable. And now a new study is negating other studies about just how many homeless people there are in Los Angeles. But regardless of their numbers – and how you count them – the bottom line is: The holidays are here, and so are people in need. Here are three ways to help the homeless and make a difference year-round.
First of all: Who needs help?
There are more than 58,000 homeless people in the Los Angeles region, but who’s counting? The answer is the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which performs a man-on-the street count every January. Now Economic Roundtable has released a study citing that this current count does not take into account year-to-year changes in homelessness and that the 58,000 figure is too low and thus not accurate.
While the methodology of any study can be disputed, and ascertaining exact numbers in such a shifting and nebulous population is challenging, Economic Roundtable points out an important fact: “To be uncounted is to be unseen.”
Counted or not, homeless people are on our streets, in vacated lots, in cars, in parks, and under underpasses. We see them every day, and they need our help.
What you can do
Volunteer. The holidays only exacerbate a situation the homeless deal with daily. Holidays are a time of company, comfort, and plenty of food. For the homeless, there are none of those things, and the cheery decorations and festivities only call attention to this. Thanksgiving brought record numbers of homeless men, women, and children to the Midnight Mission for brunch. It is likely the need through December will be high as well. If you want to help, contact local organizations for volunteer opportunities.
Support those who are lending support. People give in all sorts of ways – time, talent, or treasure. There are a lot of organizations out there doing great things to serve the homeless, but funding is always needed. To help, contact them. Here is a list of organizations in LA county accepting donations of clothing, food, or money.
Know that homelessness is a year-round problem. The holidays shed light on the tremendous need on the streets, and they bring out people’s charitable sides. But it’s important to keep in mind that the need doesn’t end when we take down the decorations. Volunteering or giving any day, at any time – not just during the holidays – makes a difference. Remember the homeless year-round.
The journey to successfully address the homeless epidemic in LA is a long one. Just when we hear promising news, we learn that efforts are stalled and that the number of encampments continues to grow. Now, more than ever, ongoing diligence is needed. During the holidays and every day throughout the year, every hand helps.
Steve Pomeroy is the founder of Big Change Advisors, a Los Angeles M&A advisory firm of business advisors and capital sourcing advisors for startups and middle-market companies. Since 1992, Steve has completed over 38 transactions including M&A, Capital Sourcing, and Public Offerings representing over $800 million in total transaction value. Through Big Change Advisors, Steve donates a percentage of all fees – or invites clients to donate a portion of Big Change Advisors fees – to help serve the homeless through the Los Angeles Mission. To request a free consultant, contact Steve here.