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Homelessness Miraculously Decreases in L.A. County Despite Foreclosures, Unemployment and Lagging Economy

What to make of the latest, official homeless count in L.A., which says the number of folks on the streets here continues to decline despite this droopy economy?

A) The books are being cooked! B) Homeless have somehow found landlords who accept crushed soda cans in lieu of rent. C) The hipsters have pushed the homeless out of traditional areas like downtown and into the bushes where they remain under-counted?

The answer, of course ...

... is C!

We told you this spring how Alice Callaghan, the queen of Skid Row and director of Las Familias del Pueblo homeless services agency, thinks those living on the streets downtown are being swept under the carpet:

In the last couple years we have lost more than 1,000 units on skid row for the poor. This is a significant loss of housing ... they've eliminated units on the Row for the poor.

She thinks a lot of the homeless have moved to the banks of the L.A. River nearby.

In any case, the taxpayer-backed Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority today released its latest numbers, which show 51,340 homeless in L.A. County, a 3 percent decrease from 2009.

Michael Arnold, executive director of the authority, pats himself on the back and notes the miraculous decrease:

Given the high unemployment and foreclosure levels over the past two years, as well as the increase in national poverty, there was concern that homelessness would rise, but fortunately that hasn't happened yet. This is largely because social service agencies, housing departments and federally funded programs like the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program have effectively helped those who are homeless move into housing and get back on their feet.

In the city of L.A., the numbers are even more unbelievable, with a 9 percent decrease in homeless since 2009.

So there you go, downtown loft dwellers. You can sleep easy.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]