IMPACT

Homelessness In Los Angeles Jumped 11 Percent Last Year: Report

On a positive note, veteran homelessness fell by 30 percent.

Homelessness rose last year in L.A., further fueling concerns about the city’s growing crisis.

The number of homeless people in the city jumped 11 percent from 2015 to 2016, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) announced on Wednesday.

The news comes eight months after officials declared a homeless “state of emergency” and just weeks after Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged $138 million to tackle the issue. 

“I've been predicting the problem was going to get worse before it got better,” City Councilman Mike Bonin told The Los Angeles Times. 

At the heart of the problem is a dearth in viable housing options.

This Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, photo shows a sign advertising a house for rent in Los Angeles. More than one-in-four renters mus
This Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, photo shows a sign advertising a house for rent in Los Angeles. More than one-in-four renters must devote at least half of their family income to housing and utilities, according to a new analysis of Census data by Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit that helps finance affordable housing. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Metropolitan Los Angeles has less than a 3 percent housing vacancy rate. And the city needs about half a million units to shelter its poorest residents, the Los Angeles Times reported last year. 

Garcetti’s “bold” plan aims to address that very issue.

The mayor’s proposed budget is more than quadruple the $34 million allocated for the current fiscal year. He said most of those funds will be used to build permanent, affordable housing for low-income communities.

But critics remain wary of exactly how the mayor will come up with the money to end the crisis that affects one third of the nation’s chronically homeless population.

The city has been working on identifying alternative funding sources.

In March, city council members proposed a number of measures that could bring in money for housing for homeless, which included taxing marijuana in order to raise the estimated $2 billion needed for the initiative. A 15 percent tax on pot sales and cultivation would bring in about $16.7 million annually. 

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 04, 2015 -- Charlie M. Lonon, left, with the VA Medical Center Long Beach hugs Melinda Estes, righ
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 04, 2015 -- Charlie M. Lonon, left, with the VA Medical Center Long Beach hugs Melinda Estes, right, with the VA Outreach as they set up to assist veterans attending the VA Homeless-to-Housed Veteran's Stand-down event Wednesday November 04, 2015 which started at 6:00 a.m. at the Veteran's Center in West Los Angeles and will continue through Thursday, November 05. The event is an attempt to gather vets and offer services on the VA campus. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

While advocates remain concerned about the general homeless population, some specific demographics experienced notable declines this year.

Veteran homelessness fell by 30 percent this year and family homelessness dropped by 18 percent.

Experts say those figures speak to the effective results that come when government agencies and nonprofits work together.

“Homelessness responds to resources,” Peter Lynn, LAHSA executive director, said in a statement. “When we have systemically applied City, County and federal resources, we see results.”

 

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