Homeless crisis growing in Los Angeles County, data shows

NORTHRIDGE, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thousands of volunteers recently fanned out across every corner of Los Angeles County attempting to get an accurate picture of the homeless crisis.

A quick drive through downtown Los Angeles tells you very quickly the homeless population isn't getting any smaller, and data provided by the volunteers proved that is exactly the case.

"We saw a 5.7 percent increase in homelessness in the county of Los Angeles," Peter Lynn, the executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority announced on Wednesday.

The results of 2016 Greater Los Angeles homeless count showed homelessness was on the rise.

Officials said part of the increase was due to a change in calculations. For instance in 2015, homeless youth were not included, but in 2016 they were.

But one area saw an increase so large that mere methodology couldn't account for it.

"The San Fernando Valley saw a tremendous increase. It was a 35 percent increase in people experiencing homelessness," Lynn said.

In fact, the district that includes Northridge, Chatsworth and Granada Hills saw close to a 60 percent increase in just one year.

"It's worse than I've ever seen it," Wade Trimmer, the executive director of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission said. "We're seeing it in the valley in places where we haven't seen it before. You go up Balboa Boulevard and they're people sleeping on bus benches, or you look behind strip malls and there's encampments that just wasn't the case even a year ago or two years ago."

Officials are looking for solutions to help curb the homelessness spike, and Trimmer said first on the list needs to be mental health issues being addressed and more housing is desperately needed.

"There aren't enough shelter beds there aren't enough housing units," Trimmer explained.
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