Number Of People Homeless In Los Angeles Skyrocketed 10% In Past Year Despite Massive Investment

Despite major investments in housing and intervention programs and Mayor Karen Bass making the issue a centerpiece of her administration, the number of people experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles area continues to skyrocket, with results of the most recent count released today showing a 9% year-over-year increase in homelessness in the county, and a 10% jump in the city.

According to the results of the point-in-time count conducted in January, there were 75,518 people experiencing homelessness in the county, and 46,260 in the city of Los Angeles.

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That’s up from 69,144 in the county last year, and 41,980 in the city.

For a longer-term comparison, the 2019 count of those in shelters or on the street in the county was 56,000. That means, in the past four years, the homeless population has risen an eye-popping 35%.

“These results are disappointing,” Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn said in a statement. “It is frustrating to have more people fall into homelessness even as we are investing hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and resources into efforts to bring people inside. I appreciate the cities that have stepped up and supported solutions, but these numbers prove that solutions-oriented cities are too few and far between.

“I hold out hope that the new partnership between the county and city of Los Angeles will make a difference and help us more effectively address this crisis. 2023 needs to be a watershed year for us where we turn these trends around.”

Bass ran on the promise to “house 15,000 people by the end of year one” of her tenure. Earlier this month, she said more than 14,000 had been moved indoors thusfar. In April, Bass called on the city to budget $1.3 billion in 2024 to address the problem.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a joint powers authority coordinated by both the city and county of Los Angeles, coordinated the count, which was conducted between Jan. 24-26 across the county.

Volunteers worked in groups of four to count the number of unsheltered individuals, tents, vehicles and makeshift shelters in their census tract.

In January, LAHSA officials stated that the one-time federal pandemic assistance programs ending could lead to more housing insecurity and fewer resources for re-housing systems to respond.

LAHSA officials previously stated that for the 2023 count, they would deploy make-up count teams to make sure every census tract is counted, and consider tracts that do not have data to be uncounted.

The agency took several steps to improve this year’s count, including implementing a new counting app, hiring a demographer and two data scientists, simplifying volunteer training and adding accountability measures.

The annual count began in 2016 to provide the county with analysis and trends of people experiencing homelessness, and to provide a blueprint for distributing homelessness program funds.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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