Homelessness has jumped 10% in L.A. city, 9% in County in 2023 despite increased investment

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Friday, June 30, 2023
Homelessness has jumped 10% in L.A. city, 9% in County in 2023
Mayor Bass said the homelessness crisis should be treated like a "hurricane" after a report finds 10% increase in 2023. The same study found a 9% increase for the county.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles city and county leaders said they were disappointed with the results of the most recent homeless count released Thursday that showed a 9% year-over-year increase in homelessness in the county, and a 10% jump in the city. And, they are calling for more to be done to quickly address the crisis.

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.

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

Despite making some progress with Inside Safe program and other efforts in housing the city's homeless, L.A. Mayor Karen Bass said there needs to be more urgency and resources allocated to address the problem.

"My own wish is that we would treat it as a hurricane. That there would be a state of emergency acknowledged on a national level that would allow us to bring in FEMA," said Bass.

Earlier this month, Bass said that her administration had moved 14,000 unhoused Angelenos into some sort of housing. But the figures continue a steady climb in the number of Southland homeless people over the past five years. In 2018, there were 52,765 homeless counted in the county, and 31,285 in the city.

On Thursday, some action came with the mayor's talk. Her Inside Safe program began moving homeless at an encampment in South L.A. into housing, but moving people into permanent housing remains a challenge.

"To get to the scale of 70,000 people, we need the private sector. We need the general public. One of the things that I'm hoping, and I don't know what the numbers are in the county in terms of unused vouchers and the difficulty there, I'd like to have a PR campaign to property owners saying just take one, just take two," Bass said.

Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority, said leaders must own that economic forces continue to take their toll on struggling residents and that more needs to be done to address the crisis.

"As sad as I am to see the increase, I think they pass the smell test in the sense that they align with what our eyes are seeing. We must address the crisis that we see everyday. That our children are talking about at the dinner table. Why are people suffering this way," said Kellum. "Economic forces continue to push people into homelessness faster than we can house folks. We have to own that."

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Janice Hahn also said the results were disappointing and called for more cooperation between the county and the city.

"These results are disappointing," 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."

LAHSA, 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.