Results show a slight increase in the number of homeless people across the county and a decrease in the Westside
By Sam Catanzaro
The Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority (LAHSA) released the results of the 2022 homeless count showing a slight increase in homelessness countywide and a decrease in the Westside.
This year’s count was LA County’s first since 2020, as the 2021 count was canceled due to COVID-19.
According to the 2020 count, the county’s homeless population increased 12.7% from the previous year, while the City of Los Angeles’ homeless population jumped 14.2% . In the Westside for the 2020 count, LA City Council District 11 saw a 40% increase in its homeless population, while Council District 5 saw a 10% increase. Citywide in 2020, Los Angeles saw a 16% increase in homelessness.
LAHSA was due to release the results of the 2022 count earlier this summer, but postponed it to July due to a delay by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in validating the data.
According to 2022 resultscountywide, the homeless population increased by 4.1%, showing that approximately 69,144 people were homeless in LA County at the time of the count this winter.
For the city of Los Angeles, the homeless population increased by 1.7%, to a total of 13,522 people. Municipal district 11 (which includes Venice) recorded a 38.5% decrease in homelessness (2,012 people in total), while Venice itself recorded a 50% decrease (981 people in total ).
In Council District 5, which includes Century City and Westwood, the 2022 results show a 3.4% increase in homelessness (465 people in total).
The City of Santa Monica conducted a separate count in February and released the results in May showing a 1% increase in homelessness.
Announcing the results on Thursday, LAHSA said the pandemic has made homelessness “more visible” than the 4% increase suggests.
“This year’s homeless count found a 17% increase in tents, vehicles and makeshift shelters on LA County streets and sidewalks from 2020, but with fewer people. At the same time, LA County’s unprotected population grew by only 1%. This means LA County has seen a significant increase in evidence of homelessness without a corresponding increase in our unsheltered neighbors,” LAHSA said in a press release.
LAHSA has applauded one-time federal aid and local economic policies such as eviction moratoriums as helpful tools that have kept people off the streets.
“Politics and investments are important. Tenant protections and rental assistance have helped people stay in their homes and get out of homelessness,” said LAHSA Acting Co-Executive Director Molly Rysman. “But now our community is in a precarious position. If these policies come to an end, it is quite possible that the future number of homeless people will increase considerably. We need these essential policies to continue.
LAHSA recommended that each LA County jurisdiction continue to increase housing investments.
“National best practice shows that a rehousing system works most effectively to reduce homelessness when there are five permanent housing units available for each accommodation bed. Los Angeles’ current ratio is one housing discharge per shelter bed,” LAHSA said.
The publication of the results sparked a wave of reactions from local actors, politicians and organisations.
“These numbers reinforce the truths that all who work tirelessly on this file know in their hearts and minds: visible and lasting progress can only come from investments in long-term, affordable, quality housing solutions.” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Elizabeth Benson Forer, CEO of Venice Family Clinic, a nonprofit community health center that provides health care to homeless people, called for long-term solutions to homelessness.
“While this year’s homeless count showed smaller increases in the number of homeless people than in recent years, the end of COVID-19 programs, like Project Roomkey and Project Homekey, is likely to push more people out of housing and onto the streets in the coming year,” Forer said in a statement. “We call on all leaders in our region to develop long-term solutions, including permanent supportive housing, that will ensure the stability and will increase the chances of success in the fight against homelessness. While shelters provide temporary housing, they are not a long-term solution. We also need to work together to prevent people from losing their homes and ensure that people experiencing homelessness get the health care and other services they need to stay housed.
John Maceri, CEO of The People Concern, one of Los Angeles County’s largest housing and social services agencies, called the results “cautiously optimistic.”
“We are disappointed to see the numbers rising again, but we are cautiously optimistic that the increase is at a lower rate than we have seen in previous years,” Maceri said. “We know what works to end homelessness – housing coupled with supportive services. The results of the 2022 Homeless Count reinforce that service providers, government leaders and the private sector must work together to increase the availability of affordable, permanent, supportive housing. »
People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) CEO Jennifer Hark Dietz shared the following statement along similar lines.
“LAHSA’s 2022 homelessness data confirms what PATH team members and our community are seeing every day: that homelessness has increased. This upward trend mirrors what we are seeing in many other parts of California and mirrors the rising cost of housing across the state. Inflation has also intensified the problem, as rents have risen at their fastest rate since the 1980s, putting homes out of reach for more individuals and families,” Hark said. “It is important to note that homelessness in Los Angeles County has declined and the pandemic could have resulted in a massive increase in homelessness overall. Initiatives such as Project Roomkey, Project Homekey and Emergency Services Funding have proven that when you fund this crisis properly, we see results. We need to make sure people can connect to transitional housing and a range of support services, but ultimately if the affordable housing stock isn’t there people will either stay in shelters or outside, with no permanent home in sight. ”
At the local level, council member Mike Bonin, who represents CD 11, celebrated the results.
“While homelessness increased 2% citywide and 4% countywide from 2020 to 2022, LAHSA data shows it dropped 38.5% in District 11. C It’s better than any other part of the city of Los Angeles. This demonstrates that it is housing and services that end homelessness; it’s not law enforcement and criminalization,” Bonin said. “Before City Council repeals any COVID-era tenant protections, we must approve tough new permanent protections, including a fully funded right to counsel, universal ‘just cause’ eviction rules, increased relocation assistance, limits on rent increases, and removal of discriminatory barriers to rental housing.
Bonin is not running in the November elections. Traci Park, who is running against Erin Darling to replace that seat, released a statement that contrasted Bonin’s, calling the results “sobering.”
“Today’s release of homeless counts by city and county leaders continues to be sobering. This is not an insoluble problem; it’s a matter of determination and leadership. Once elected official, I will focus on the inhumanity of homelessness and camp living with the urgency this issue demands. We must get people off the streets, for the health and safety of the whole community. We do not We won’t criminalize poverty, drug addiction or mental health disorders, but we must insist on clean and safe streets, parks and neighborhoods,” Park said.
Darling also commented on the results, with remarks that echoed Bonin’s statement.
“LAHSA’s 2022 homeless count shows that the largest decrease in homelessness in Los Angeles occurred in District 11. Take a look at this tool to see for yourself. We know what works: prevention and services. Solutions not scapegoats! said darling.