The homelessness problem in Los Angeles is worsening, for the city as well as the county. The city of LA reported a 16 percent increase in their homeless population in one year with a corresponding 12 percent increase in LA County.
In the city, there are 36,000 homeless residents while there are a total of 59,000 residing in the county. This includes those living in the streets, in homeless shelters, and in their vehicles. Around 75 percent of those listed are living outside, causing a public health crisis.
“At this point of unprecedented wealth in the county of Los Angeles, we are equally confronted with unprecedented poverty manifesting itself in the form of homelessness,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said to the Los Angeles Times.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti believes the issue is “heartbreaking” but intends to throw even more money at the problem. The city is pledging an additional investment of $42 million toward more public services, which will likely attract more homeless people to benefit from them.
“This work has never been for the faint of heart, and we cannot let a set of difficult numbers discourage us, or weaken our resolve,” Garcetti said to the Times.
City officials had believed that the 2017 Measure H sales tax revenue would take people off the streets and from shelters into permanent housing, but the exact opposite effect has apparently occurred.
“Last year’s count, we felt we were trimming in a way that would suggest we were getting our arms around this,” Ridley-Thomas said. “And yet this year we are pretty well stunned by this data.”
Activists in the community are growing frustrated with liberal city officials, screaming slogans during Tuesday’s supervisor meeting such as “Shame on you!” and “That’s an undercount!”
Peter Lynn, who works as executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, points to skyrocketing rents and housing costs as factors for causing the surge in the homeless population.
“If we don’t change the fundamentals of housing affordability, this is going to be a very long road,” Peter Lynn told the Times. “If we don’t get ahead of affordability, we’re going to be very hard pressed to get ahead of homelessness.”
“Overall, the service portion of the effort on mental health, substance use, the issue of housing, rent subsidies, those are important and we should stay the course,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Where we have to work much harder is in the area of affordable housing.”
LA County is not alone in dealing with this problem, as it is an epidemic across California. Orange County reported a 43 percent increase in homelessness from its last recorded count in 2017. Ventura, San Bernardino and Kern counties have seen increases of 20 percent or more in their homeless populations.
California as a whole is suffering the burden of liberal governance, as continued subsidies for the homeless population combined with burdensome regulations that prevent sufficient job growth will only cause the problem to worsen as they deal with the consequences of their impending bankruptcy.
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