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LMU Students to Help Survey Homeless

The Loyola Marymount University service organization Magis is taking an active role in a Sept. 27-28 census of homeless people in the Westchester and Playa del Rey. The canvass is being undertaken by PATH – People Assisting the Homeless – and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to determine the size of the homeless population and to better plan assistance and services.

“PATH has been informing us about the project and offering instruction on how to interact with the homeless population,” said Robert Santilli, a junior business major and student director of LMU’s initiative Feed the Hungry. “They are showing us what to be sensitive to,” he said.

“This is something of a challenge to LMU,” said Carlos Rodriguez, president of Magis and a senior political science major. “It’s a challenge to look out for those people in need right in our own neighborhood. It was a wake-up call for me: I was informed about homelessness, but I wasn’t aware of the presence of homeless people in our own neighborhood.”

Small teams of PATH, Homeless Authority and Magis members – between 20 to 30 LMU students will be participating in the census – will spend parts of two days and nights traversing the area within the Westchester Neighborhood Council to find people living on the streets. The survey will include some personal and behavioral questions, but is not intended to be intrusive. As an incentive to participate, homeless people will be offered coupons to a local fast-food restaurant. PATH will analyze and interpret the data after it is collected.

Magis – Men Acting Genuinely in Service – has been involved in helping homeless people for some time. They developed a weekly Career Center at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood, where Magis members help clients with job searches, setting up interviews and advising on job skills. Magis also takes a lead role in Homeless Awareness Week on the LMU campus, this year from Nov. 8 to Nov. 12. 

“I came to college with a mentality that focused on change and social justice,” said Rodriguez. “I wanted to find a group that provided the usual college experience, but also served a deeper purpose. Magis is a good forum to express my passion for making the world a better place.”

Posted Sept. 27, 2010