REDONDO BEACH, Calif. — After a one-year hiatus, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is wrapping up its annual homeless count. The partnership involves several volunteers and organizations joining together to get a better understanding of how many homeless are living on the streets of LA County, including in the South Bay.
But who are the faces behind the numbers? Travis Ford is one of them.
He’s been living in his RV for about 10 years, and when he most needs it, it won’t start.
“Yesterday I started it fine,” Ford said. “Today, when I need it to start, it won’t. It’s weird.”
The clock is ticking for him to move before the street sweepers get here, but it’s a lost cause, and he needs a coffee break.
He said it was a bad relationship and a drug habit that put him on the streets. He’s kicked both but was never able to find steady work, and now he spends most days and nights at Dominguez Park.
Every Wednesday, parking enforcement comes, issuing tickets to anyone parked in the lot between 10 a.m. and noon — this will be his ninth one. He said he just bought a new battery, thinking that was the problem, but still, his car ticks numerous times, unable to jump start.
He runs out of time, getting yet another $45 citation. Ford said it’s frustrating for him to be in these continual predicaments. He’s hoping the homeless count this year might help, but he’s not holding his breath for housing. His options are scarce because he refuses to leave his dog, Daisy, behind and most shelters don’t allow pets.
At least living in his RV, he said he has what he needs.
“It’s got hot water, fridge, stove, all that,” he explained. “It’s just you’re still in the street, you know?”
Ford is one of about 150 homeless people Redondo Beach Police Officer Keith Turner estimates are living within city limits.
Turner set out with other volunteers to help with this year’s annual homeless count conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, or LAHSA.
After they skipped last year altogether because of COVID, Turner said things still look very different this time around. Instead of making contact, volunteers stay in their cars and note any homeless person they see on the street.
“A lot of these individuals aren’t going to be out in the open because it’s so cold out. So I think our homeless count is going to be extremely low,” Turner explained. “I know factually, it’s not gonna be indicative of our homeless in our city.”
In 2020, LAHSA counted 4,560 homeless in the South Bay, a 3% increase from the year before. Turner spends most of his days helping homeless people. There are so many at Dominguez Park, he knows by name. That includes Ford, who said he is holding onto faith that this could lead to more services for people like him.
“Maybe,” he said. “A lot of people don’t want to accept the help, though.”
But as for Ford, he said he’s ready.