The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority yesterday released the results of its annual “point in time” homeless count, conducted in January, which once again show increases in the number of homeless residents at both the city and county level.
According to LAHSA, the 2023 count shows a “9% rise in homelessness on any given night in Los Angeles County to an estimated 75,518 people and a 10% rise in the City of Los Angeles to an estimated 46,260 people.” LAHSA, which called the results “disappointing but not surprising,” said the increases “are slightly lower than previous year-over-year increases,” but they still represent a “steady growth trend.”
But LAHSA also pointed out that the upward trend is not limited to Los Angeles, and many other cities saw even greater increases this year. According to the report, “Chicago and Portland saw double-digit increases (+57% and +20% respectively), while several Southern California counties experienced increases larger than Los Angeles, including San Bernadino (+26%), San Diego (+22%), Kern (+22%), and Riverside (+12%).”
Among other information provided by LAHSA, the number of homeless people sheltered in interim housing was relatively stable compared to last year, but the number of unsheltered people increased.
Also, LAHSA reported that “several emergency declarations made in LA City and County have decreased the time it takes to move someone from the street to interim housing.” For example, said the report, it took an average of 110 days to move someone from the street to interim housing in 2021, but that number is now down to 61 days for adults, and has gone from 127 to just 59 days for “Transition-Aged Youth” (TAY).
There has also been an almost 30% increase in the total number of interim housing placements from street outreach.
The full LAHSA report also contains data and charts looking at the ages, genders, and ethnicities of our homeless neighbors, the number of veterans who are unhoused, the dwelling types most used by the homeless, the percentages of individuals who have experienced substance abuse and/or mental health issues, and more.
All in all, though, “The homeless count results tell us what we already know — that we have a crisis on our streets, and it’s getting worse,” said Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), in LAHSA’s announcement of the results. And both Adams Kellum and other city officials said the numbers also justify the urgency with which various agencies are working to tackle the problem.
“These homelessness count numbers demonstrate the urgency needed to not only get people inside from off our streets,” said City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez in a statement to the Buzz, “but also keep people in their homes and prevent them from falling into homelessness in the first place.”
Finally, despite the elevated numbers reported today, it is worth noting that because the Homeless Count was done in January, it does not reflect the last six months’ worth of efforts to combat the problem, including those of newly-elected officials like Soto-Martinez and LA Mayor Karen Bass, both of whom took office in January. (In fact, the city reported recently that more than 14,000 people have been moved off the streets in the first six months of this year, with more than 4,000 of those finding permanent housing.)
But even Bass acknowledged today that there’s a lot more work to do.
“The data gathered in January represents the crisis our city faces,” Bass said in the LAHSA announcement. “The challenge before us is vast but we will continue to work with urgency to bring Angelenos inside…We must sustain our momentum by locking arms with leaders at every level of government as we confront this crisis as the emergency that it is. Lives depend on it.”