Photo by John Rabe

The number of homeless individuals in Los Angeles County fell for the first time in nine years to 53,000, according to figures released May 31 by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

The 2018 homeless population of 53,195 as of the counting period in late January fell by 3 percent from a revised 55,048 last year. That 2017 figure was recently adjusted downward from the 58,000 figure widely cited in media reports and statements from local elected officials due to a coding error in the counting of homeless youth.

The late January homeless count for the city of Los Angeles also fell 5 percent to 31,516 from a revised 33,138 last year. Again, the 2017 figure was adjusted downward from the oft-cited 34,000 figure, for the same error in the youth homeless count.

The number of homeless in downtown Los Angeles’ skid row fell 7 percent to 4,294, while the homeless population in Hollywood fell 11 percent to 1,681 and in Venice fell 18 percent to 975.

Reacting to the drop in the countywide homeless population, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in a statement:

“Today’s homeless count numbers are an affirmation that we are on the right track, but there is much more work to be done….I am heartbroken at the increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness for the first time.”

On the numbers for the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement:

“The numbers from this year’s homeless count show real progress…(F)or the first time in nine years, we finally have some good news. Just a few years ago, our approach to homelessness was dysfunctional — with too many government agencies that didn’t see themselves as a single team. But today, everyone is in, and we are pressing relentlessly forward until every Angeleno has a safe place to sleep at night.”

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.