Homelessness has gotten worse in Los Angeles county despite huge investment. Some other cities see a decrease
The homeless population in Los Angeles County has increased to almost 60,000 people this year, despite major investment in combating the crisis.
That is an increase of 12% compared with last year, according to a 2019 report released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
The number rose even though the homeless crisis response system helped more than 21,000 people move into permanent housing over the course of last year, the report said.
It also climbed despite $619 million spent on reducing homelessness, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Thousands of people became homeless, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said, as a result of the economy, foster care, mental health, criminal justice and the housing market.
In response to the report, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the city is “still in the early days of the toughest fight of our lives.”
The city of Los Angeles — where the bulk of the county’s homeless population resides — saw a 16% rise in homelessness, to 36,300 people, according to the report.
Garcetti said Los Angeles is putting more resources toward addressing homelessness this year, including $42 million for public health concerns and street-based services; 7,000 new housing units and assistance for the chronically homeless; and 2,000 shelter beds.
“This work has never been for the faint of heart, and we cannot let a set of difficult numbers discourage us, or weaken our resolve,” Garcetti said in the statement.
Los Angeles is one of several cities to recently release data about its homeless population. The information was gathered through a federally mandated point-in-time count — a visual survey of people experiencing homelessness on a given night. The surveys are usually conducted in communities across the country in late January, with the results released in May or June.
Nationally, homelessness has been trending downward over the last decade, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. But this year’s results, so far, offer a mixed bag.
For example, Seattle and King County, Washington, saw a decrease in homelessness for the first time in seven years with an 8% drop, according to a report by the organization All Home.
New York City said the number of unsheltered people — those sleeping on the street, and in parks, subways and other public places — declined by 2% from last year. In Indianapolis, the total number of people experiencing homelessness is down 7%, according to Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, said the number of people living on the street, in shelters and in transitional housing climbed 8%, and Austin, Texas, reported a 5% increase in the total number of people experiencing homelessness, according to Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.