The latest tally of homlessness in Los Angeles has been released, and the numbers are not good.
According to 2020 Homeless Count data unveiled yesterday by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, homelessness in Los Angeles County is up 12.7% from 2019, with an estimated 64,433 people now unhoused. And the numbers indicate that the crisis is hitting African Americans hardest, including 21,509 people, or 34% of the total (only 8% of LA residents are black). Among other homeless residents, 16,000 are white and 23,000 are Latino.
In the City of Los Angeles, according to the report, 41,209 residents are now homeless, which is a 13.6% increase over last year.
In an LA Times story about the release of the new numbers, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said the data “underscore the scope of the problem and needed solutions,” and that “Until America has a right to housing as an entitlement for the truly indigent, we’re not going to solve homelessness in America. Every country that solved homelessness has done that.”
On the more positive side, according to a story in LAist, the city also placed 23,000 people in permanent housing last year…but those efforts were undercut by the fact that “83,000 people lost their homes during the same time period — about 50% more than the year before…”
And for even more bad news, it’s important to note that the 2020 numbers were collected in January, before the COVID-19 crisis hit…and many experts fear the pandemic may have already made things even worse, with still more major escalations to come. In fact, a recent UCLA study predicts that “members of approximately 120,000 households in Los Angeles County, including 184,000 children, are likely to become homeless at least for some period over the next several months.”
Tammy Rosato, Homelessness Liaison for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, called the new numbers “sad and sobering,” and shared with the Buzz a statement from the Downtown Women’s Center, which echoes concerns about COVID-19-related waves of homelessness to come…and particularly the vulnerability of women of color.
“Women of color are especially overrepresented in the industries hardest hit by the shutdown including retail, hospitality, healthcare, and education; they also earn on average less than their male and white female counterparts,” said the Center’s statement. “And the coming evictions will, once again, “disproportionately impact BIPOC [Black, Indiginous, People of Color] women.”
(For even more about the racial disparities of homelessness, see https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-06-12/racism-making-more-black-people-la-homeless )