A dramatic rise in homelessness has been reported in Los Angeles County — up 12% in 2018 to over 59,000 — is certainly an odd trend developing given “the greatest economy ever” and booming West Coast economies.
The epicenter of the homeless problem is in the city of Los Angeles, which saw a 16% jump to 36,300, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LHSA) said.
The LHSA said it assisted 21,631 people in getting off the street into permanent housing last year, a rate that would end the homeless crisis in a matter of years but economic deterioration has simultaneously pushed new families out of their homes.
People who couldn’t find permanent housing ended up in homeless encampments across the city.
“People are being housed out of homelessness and falling into homelessness on a continuous basis,” said Peter Lynn, the authority’s executive director.
Nearly 25% of those counted became homeless for the first time last year, and more than 50% of them mentioned financial stress was the culprit behind their homelessness, LHSA said.
Rising rents, a housing affordability crisis, largest ever wealth gap between rich and poor, deteriorating jobs market, and an economy cycling into a slowdown are some of the complex factors that have recently shifted tens of thousands of people onto the streets of Los Angeles.
“This data is stunning from the perspective that we had hoped that things would be trending differently, but we will not ignore our realities,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas told CNN.
“No one can ignore the income insecurity, the financial stress that is being experienced throughout the population. … This is a state that is the wealthiest in the nation, and, at the same time, it is the most impoverished.”
Almost 75% of the homeless people counted lived outdoors, stoking fears of an expanding public health crisis that will certainly explode into the early 2020s.
Skid Row, an area of Downtown Los Angeles, is “ground zero” for the homeless crisis, where homeless encampments line the sidewalks. The smell of human waste permeates the air and violence is common, said Estela Lopez of the Downtown Industrial Business Improvement District.
Lopez said her group collects five to seven tons of garbage per day from the homeless.
County Supervisor Janice Hahn called the developing crisis “disheartening.”
“Even though our data shows we are housing more people than ever, it is hard to be optimistic when that progress is overwhelmed by the number of people falling into homelessness,” Hahn said.
Of those homeless people counted, 24% were millennials, and 7% were baby boomers.
Estimates show about 29% of the homeless counted were mentally ill or had substance abuse issues.
Two-thirds of the homeless on the streets of metro Los Angeles are male, less than one-third are female, and 2% had some other form of gender.
With an economic downturn nearing, Los Angeles County could see rates of homelessness dramatically increase into the early 2020s, overpowering local officials, and lead to a deepening of the public health crisis.
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Author: Tyler Durden