The Santa Monica Homeless Count

Homeless counts are mandated every two years by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for all communities that receive federal funds for homelessness programs. Santa Monica began conducting a Homeless Count on an annual basis in 2010 in order to more rapidly identify and respond to homeless population trends.  

The 2016 Homeless Count took place on Wednesday, January 27. This event could not have taken place without the support of the community, including over 250 community volunteers and City staff who covered each street in Santa Monica!  

The 2016 Homeless Count Results (View Executive Summary)

The point-in-time homeless count found 728 individuals, a decrease from 738 (1%) in 2015.

  • The street count is 416, an increase from 402 (3%) in 2015.
  • Within the street count, individuals sleeping in vehicles/encampments numbered 73, unchanged from 2015.
  • Shelter and institution population is 312, a decrease from 336 (7%) in 2015.

Key Findings

  • Although street homelessness has increased, the overall total point-in-time count maintains a 20% reduction in overall homelessness as compared to the baseline set by the 2009 count.  Street homelessness is still 13% lower than in 2009.

  • This year, in addition to counting individuals, City staff and volunteers collected brief demographic surveys from 133 unduplicated homeless individuals over 3 nights in several locations including downtown, Palisades Park, and the beach.  Self-reported results showed that only 3% of those surveyed have spent their entire homeless experience in Santa Monica, while 52% report arriving here from elsewhere in L.A. County, and 29% came from out of state.  Survey data supports reports from service providers and first responders that Santa Monica's homeless population is shifting to a much more transitory group, as 25% of individuals reported being in Santa Monica less than 1 and an additional 30% have been here beetween 1 and 12 months. Their relatively short stay in Santa Monica is contrasted by the length of their homeless experience overall, as 62% reported being homeless for more than 1 year, including 30% reporting homelessness for more than 5 years.  This increasingly transitory population and the extended chronicity of their homelessness experience may be contributing to the reduced utilization of local shelters, which is reflected in the steady decline in the shelter count since 2013. 

Results over the Years

The total homeless population decreased by 1% from 2015. 

  • Unsheltered street homeless population is 416, an increase of 3% from 2015.   
  • Individuals sleeping in vehicles numbered 73, unchanged from 2015.  
  • Shelter and institution population is 312, a reduction of 7% from 2015.
  • 2009 total = 915 
  • 2010 total = 742 (18.9% reduction from 2009)
  • 2011 total = 740 (sustained the reduction of previous years)
  • 2012 total = 769 (includes 19 individuals from 5 families participating in the new temporary Upward Bound House Winter Shelter Program)
  • 2013 total = 780 (remained stable from 2012)
  • 2014 total = 742 (5% reduction from 2013)
  • 2015 total = 738 (0.5% reduction from 2014)
  • 2016 total = 728 (1% reduction from 2015)

Watch the video of the City Manager's Report: Update on 2016 Homeless Count from 3/1/16 City Council Meeting (Agenda Item 2A).





The Santa Monica Homeless Count
City of Santa Monica © 2017

Human Services Division  l  1685 Main Street, Room 212  l  Santa Monica, CA 90401
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