During the Great Recession, the nation's worst economy since the 1930s, homelessness in L.A. County actually decreased, at least if you believe the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
The organization does a homeless count every other year, and it found that the number of people on the streets of L.A. County was cut nearly in half by the end of the last recession, in 2009.
“Development of permanent supportive housing and affordable housing” had its effect, LAHSA director Michael Arnold said at the time. LOL, right? Last year UCLA declared that Los Angeles had the least affordable rental housing in America. And this year, the latest homeless count put the number of people on the streets back to nearly double what it was in 2009.
Maybe the recession did have an effect. Or maybe the Homeless Services Authority did some magical math. A chart (below) of county-based homeless figures shows the fairly steady growth of people living on L.A. streets.
Either way, homelessness in L.A. is an epidemic. The nonprofit research organization Economic Roundtable today released its “All Alone” report on homelessness in Los Angeles. It found that “942,000 Los Angeles County public assistance recipients experienced homeless over nine years,” according to a summary.
The report says a whopping 13,000 people a month, all of them recipients of public assistance, end up homeless in L.A. each month. Half of those people, it says, are actually children. In fact, more than “100,000 children did not have a home in the average month,” the report says.
Los Angeles is the home of billionaires, big Hollywood moguls who get massive tax breaks, and hungry children on the streets. Makes sense. This is the case despite the fact that homes have been found for 10,000 homeless people in the last three years, the report says.
The data is based on nine years of public assistance records for 8,969,289 L.A. County residents.
This is also bad news for the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has vowed to end chronic homelessness by the end of next year.
The report says that, because so many of these folks receive public assistance, government contacts have missed an opportunity to step in and intervene. According to a summary:
Because public assistance programs touch most people experiencing homelessness and at risk of homelessness, the report recommends that they be given the role of flagging tripwire events. These events include homelessness, children not attending school regularly, long-term unemployment of parents and domestic violence. When any of these events occur, families should be immediately connected with agencies that will provide services to help them resolve their crises.
“Ending chronic homelessness will be feasible if fewer people become homeless” says the report's author, Daniel Flaming. “This requires the combined resources of health, mental health, social service, education, justice system and housing agencies to restore a place in the community for homeless individuals.”