Almost 58,000 people are homeless in Los Angeles County on any given night, up 23 percent from a year ago, according to the latest count from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released Wednesday.
The tally of homeless residents taken on several nights in January reached 57,794, up from 46,784 last year. The largest percentage increases were seen in Antelope Valley and eastern Los Angeles County, which each rose by 50 percent. Central Los Angeles recorded the largest numerical increase of 3,500. In all, the city of Los Angeles saw its homeless tally rise 20 percent to 34,189.
An estimated 17,531 people were classified as chronically homeless, up 20 percent from last year. Another 8,529 people in families experienced homelessness, up 29 percent from last year.
Sharply rising rents countywide and the loss of rent-controlled units in Los Angeles and several other cities have been cited as major factors behind the sharp rise in homelessness.
The count did find more formerly homeless people that had moved into permanent housing: 14,214 in all during 2016, up 30 percent from 2015.
“The results of LAHSA’s Homeless Count are not a surprise to Angelenos, who have seen the number of unsheltered people in their neighborhoods grow before their eyes,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “The extraordinary number of people falling into homelessness shows that we still face a historic shortage of affordable housing, a staggering mental health crisis, insufficient support for veterans and foster youth, and inadequate resources to help formerly incarcerated Angelenos turn their lives around.”
Voters overwhelmingly passed two homelessness initiatives in recent months to help combat the crisis: Measure H, a countywide quarter-cent sales tax hike approved in March, will pay for support services for the homeless. Proposition HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure approved by Los Angeles city voters last November, is intended to fund the construction of up to 10,000 units of permanent supportive housing over the next decade. Both measures had strong support from the business community, which has made addressing the homeless crisis one of its top issues.
Garcetti has also proposed an affordable housing linkage fee on new residential development, which would require the developers of certain market-rate projects to include affordable housing on site or contribute to a fund that supports new affordable housing production.
Public policy and energy reporter Howard Fine can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.
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