Chronic Homelessness up 55% in L.A. Area over Two Years

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Skid Row in Los Angeles (photo: Eric Richardson, Blogdowntown)

Homelessness edged down 2% nationally between 2014 and 2015 and is down 11% since 2007, according to a new report (pdf) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

It probably doesn’t feel that way in Los Angeles city and county.

More than one-third of the country’s chronically homeless people and 21% of all homeless folks live in California. Many of them are in the L.A. area, where chronic homelessness grew 55% since 2013, the report said. That’s the biggest jump in the nation.

HUD considers someone chronically homeless if they have a disabling condition and have been continuously homeless for a year or more, or have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years.

Much of the HUD data used in the report was extrapolated from a street count conducted over three days in January. It does not include information from Pasadena, Long Beach and Glendale; they have their own homeless programs.

No doubt California’s weather has something to do with 64% of the state’s homeless being on the street, the most in the nation. The national average is 31%.

An unaccompanied homeless youth in California is almost certainly on the street. Of the 10,416 identified, 7,952 were unsheltered. The 76.3% rate is second-highest in the nation to Nevada (87.5%). In Maine, only 1 of 146 unaccompanied homeless youth is unsheltered.

Around 11,311, or 24%, of the nation’s homeless veterans are in California. Homeless veterans are generally found in shelters. Not in California. Sixty-two percent are on the streets.

Although the number of homeless veterans in California declined 6.5% between 2014 and 2015 and 37% between 2009 and 2015, it wasn’t that way in Los Angeles. Homeless veterans there increased 7% between 2014 and 2015.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti has said that ending homelessness in the city is one of his top priorities and vowed to get all the homeless veterans off the street. A report in April from the L.A. city administrative officer found that most of the $100 million Los Angeles spends annually on the homeless is for policing services, not assistance to the homeless.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro blamed the intractable homeless problem on rising rents, the afforable-housing crisis and budget cuts in social programs. “In January 2015, 564,708 people were homeless on any given night,” the report said. Twenty-three percent were children under 18, 9% were 18-24 and 68% were older than 25.

Growing income inequality doesn’t look like it will be reversing itself anytime soon, so it’s a good thing HUD extended its deadline for ending chronic homelessness in America from the end of this year to 2017. But future deadline revisions could be in order.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

L.A. Tops Nation in Chronic Homeless Population (by Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times)

L.A. Mayor Says He’ll Shake a Stick at Homeless Instead of Beating Them With It (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Homelessness Climbs 12% in Los Angeles City and County (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) (pdf)

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