Making progress on homelessness

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Each year, thousands of volunteers come together to participate in the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, a point-in-time census of L.A. County’s homeless population. The count gives us a snapshot of where homeless people are on a given night and reveals important demographic information about the population. This year’s Count City and Community Level Results were recently released, and they showed that our efforts are beginning to yield results.

For the first time in four years, there is a decrease in homelessness throughout L.A. County, with a five percent decline in the city of Los Angeles. While this is a hopeful sign, there are still more than 31,000 Angelenos without a home.

The drop indicates that new resources voters approved are already having an impact. We housed more than 16,500 people last year, a 28 percent increase over last year and the highest number the region has ever achieved. Housing placements for youth are up to 53 percent, leaving more homeless youth sheltered than not.

There were double-digit drops among two high-priority populations: the chronically homeless and veterans. People who are chronically homeless — who have a disabling condition and have experienced homelessness for at least a year — decreased by 16 percent and the number of homeless veterans fell by 18 percent.

These decreases are primarily due to our focus on getting people into the coordinated entry system, which streamlines the process of finding housing for the most vulnerable, and the construction of supportive housing funded by Measure HHH. There are currently more than 2,000 housing units in the pipeline because of this voter-approved measure.

I want to point out another important thing we learned from this year’s community numbers: homelessness is a homegrown issue. More than three out of four homeless people lived in Los Angeles before becoming homeless. Sixty-five percent had been in LA for more than 20 years and only 10 percent had been here less than a year. Homeless children attend our schools. Homeless mothers and fathers work alongside us and live in our communities.

The community numbers also illustrate that, although homelessness dipped overall, it increased across the San Fernando Valley, including in some parts Council District 2. Although neighborhoods like Studio City have fewer than 40 homeless individuals living there, other areas, like North Hollywood, have far more. This underscores the urgent need to bring more housing solutions and services to those areas of the San Fernando Valley. Placing people in secure and monitored housing, where they get a bed, along with physical and mental health, substance abuse and job training services, is the best way to begin turning things around.

I will keep you updated on the actions we’re taking to combat homelessness in the weeks and months ahead. If you have questions or comments, please contact me: paul.krekorian@lacity.org.

Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee and the Ad Hoc Committee on Job Creation, represents Council District 2, which includes North Hollywood, Studio City, Valley Village and other communities in the East Valley.

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