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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Los Angeles Sees 9% Surge in Homeless Population

The newest indicator of how intractable California’s homelessness situation has grown is the number of individuals in Los Angeles County who are sleeping in automobiles, on the streets, in hidden tents, or in shelters, which increased by 9 percent from a year ago.

The most recent tally of 75,518 persons was seen by local authorities as a discouraging indicator that attempts to relocate homeless Angelenos have not kept pace with the rate at which families are losing their homes.

The figure has increased from its lowest point of 52,765 in 2018. (There was no official tally taken in 2021)

Dr. Adams Kellum found some positive trends in this year’s data: the area now has thousands more shelter beds available than before the epidemic, and the time it takes to relocate homeless individuals into temporary housing has been cut in half.

As in other cities around the nation, including Phoenix, a housing scarcity has led to increased prices, putting a strain on already-struggling families.

Every two years, the federal government requires a nationwide point-in-time census of persons who are homeless and not in any kind of housing. In Los Angeles, homeless persons are counted visually over the course of a few nights in January by teams of volunteers spreading out over the city. In order to better understand the population they serve, organisations that aid the homeless often undertake surveys.

Not all cities have supplied their 2023 estimates since local governments and their data-collection partners release their counts at various dates throughout the country. The homeless population has increased by 7% in the Phoenix metro area and by 11% in Washington, D.C. New York City authorities said on Wednesday that the city now has more than 100,000 people living in homeless shelters, surpassing Chicago’s for the first time.

Los Angeles County is the second biggest county in the United States, and its annual homeless count is one of the few methods to gauge the government’s success in tackling the area’s most pressing issue. The housing shortage there has become a chronic and severe humanitarian catastrophe over the last several decades.

Although Los Angeles is far from being the only American city to deal with homelessness, it has a notably larger homeless population than the rest of the country combined. So, Los Angeles serves as a type of massive experiment to see what works and what doesn’t.

Leaders and campaigners in Los Angeles’ city and county who fight to end homelessness have complained for years about a lack of urgency and cooperation between the two levels of government.

And at the height of the epidemic, the most vivid images of the feeling of anarchy that enveloped the city were the huge encampments that sprouted under motorway overpasses, in parks, on residential streets, and on beaches. Activists opposed calls from certain locals for the forcible removal of homeless people from the streets, calling them an inhumane and unnecessary short-cut.

Karen Bass, the mayor of Oakland, was elected last year after campaigning on a pledge to immediately have a significant impact on a massive issue. Bass is a veteran community organiser and former member of Congress. She promised to relocate thousands of squatters in a compassionate manner by prioritising community engagement above cleaning efforts. She has said that better coordination between NGOs and government bodies is essential for achieving this objective.

Dr. Adams Kellum pointed out that the census this year took conducted around a month after Ms. Bass took office, and that in that time, the mayor’s initiatives had “shown overwhelming success.”

Ms. Bass recently brought attention to the fact that 14,381 persons were relocated inside by her administration in the first six months of her tenure. She has also worked to speed up the building of low-cost homes.

However, it is unclear whether these efforts will ultimately result in fewer persons experiencing homelessness. There will be a lot riding on the results of next year’s census for her government.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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