Homeless women in LA are disproportionately impacted by gender-based violence, study says

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As the homeless crisis continues to grow and spread across the city of Los Angeles, a new report finds that the nearly 11,000 women experiencing homelessness are disproportionately impacted.

"I've seen an increase in women, elderly women, women who are widows, women who have been on the street for 10 and 15 years, that are struggling because they don't have families," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

The 2019 Los Angeles City Women's Needs Assessment conducted by the Downtown Women's Center found that 75% of homeless women slept on the streets, stemming from barriers such as lack of affordable housing, case management services and shelters, among other factors.

The report also found that homeless women face unique and traumatic challenges. According to the report, 36% were victims of domestic violence in the last 12 months, 44% had been victims of a crime and 27% had experienced sexual assault. Over 50% had experienced domestic or interpersonal violence in their lifetime.

On a county level, over 18,000 women are homeless, a 41% increase from 2013, according to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

"That's one of the most distinguishing differences when you look at men experiencing homelessness and women experiencing homelessness is the domestic violence and gender-based violence," said the center's Amy Turk.

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The Los Angeles Unified School District is hoping to connect over 17,000 students and their families to services.

Vickie Vickers was homeless for several years and now she works for the women's center.
"Women need a roof over their head, a foundation under their feet and support to survive homelessness," she said.

Now, the women's center is using these numbers to push for more services to address the needs of homeless women.

"(It) helps us go to the governor, helps us go to this administration and Congress and say 'you cannot let these women be unseen and you have to solve this with us'," L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

The women's center is hoping to do a study that would cover all of Los Angeles County.

Crimes against homeless people increased 24% in 2019 while overall crime decreased, crime data shows
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An ABC7 analysis of LAPD data shows crimes against the homeless people increased 24% in 2019, while crime overall decreased 6%.

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