29 January 2009

my night counting homeless

i showed up tonight a wee before 8, at a community center in some burb called duarte, out in the san gabriel valley (that would be bum-fucked-egypt to an urban villager like me), with a mission i didn't particularly understand, and its methodology a complete mystery. i was somehow and for some reason going to be counting homeless people.

who knew that every coupla years the homeless population needs to be counted in order to secure federal, state, and local funding to homeless service and housing providers? when last this was done, two years ago, there were more than 75,000 homeless people counted in los angeles county.

so anyway, tonight i showed up at this community center, got my t-shirt, snack, and information packet, went through a brief training session, and was paired up with my team-mates (i didn't know a soul in the room, though there was a volunteer or two who knew me from one of last summer's camp obamas). shortly after signing a waiver (yeah, awesome!), we were sent on our merry way with a flashlight, a clipboard, a pen, a map, and a tally sheet. yep, that's right. we were canvassing after dark, and instead of counting votes, we were counting folks.

we mostly drove around because our turf was a residential suburb on the north side of pasadena (so lame. i mean, i learned my lesson. next time i'm going out to count homeless people, i'm going to hollywood). so we drove our turf, looking futilely for the suburbanite homeless population.

we did find one or two homeless dudes walking around, as well as a van or two that had been converted into a motor home parked on the streets of suburbia. and it was most certainly an adventure, though next time i canvas for homeless, i'm going to a part of the city that will require me to do so on foot, with a flashlight and a can of mace, and i'm taking a big burly boy with me.

it was an interesting evening, and most definitely the most unusual community service project i've yet undertaken. and what did i learn in all of this? that even the homeless don't want to live in the burbs...



  1. Hahahaha! I can't stop laughing! Even the homeless don't want to live in the 'burbs! Hahahaha!

    Yeah, next time you should either canvas H-wood, SaMo, or downtown...or by The Winehouse off of Cotner in West LA!

  2. thought you might like this guy's website:
    i took a class on the homeless in college. a lot of them would be very difficult to count because they live in their cars (like the guy with that website) or stay night to night in different hotels, on people's couches, in places that are open 24 hours, etc.

  3. This sounds like a _really_ odd thing to do... and it sounds strange enough that I should do it at least once. Feel free to tag me as the "big burly boy" if you do it again. heh.