LOS ANGELES — The city of Angels is not counting stars — it’s trying to sum up its homeless population. And the figures are staggering.
59,000 is the new approximated number of people living on the streets or in vehicles in Los Angeles County, based on the report delivered to LA County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The result of the annual point-in-time count of homeless individuals reveals even more alarming numbers: a 12% increase in the chronically homeless in the county, and 36,000people in the city of LA alone— a 16% increase from the 2018 count. And 917 homeless people have died within the last year.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has been under fire for many years over this state-wide issue, says that they are utilizing unprecedented resources— $1.2 billion from voter-passed Measure HH in 2016 and measure H-the quarter-cent increase in LA county- funds earmarked for the creation of more than 10,000 units to house the homeless and lower-income residents.
Homeless advocates are saying the issue is not money, its political will.
Leaders of the Healthy Housing Foundation and other organizations say the leaders in Los Angeles need to stop favoring luxury condo developers, declare a county-wide housing emergency, convert idle government properties into affordable housing and evoke eminent domain-the right of a government to take over a private property- with just compensation-for permanent housing for the homeless.
The King Edward hotel-a few blocks from Skid Row–is now a converted permanent home for the homeless—funded by the nonprofit sector. They say there are over 300 similar hotels in la county which can provide decent homes for the homeless.
But Rene Moya, director of Housing is a Human Right, says the underlying issue goes beyond funding: it’s race.
“Historically disadvantaged, historically under-invested communities are the first impacted by gentrification/the pushing out of often poorer-often people of color from communities and the moving in of predominantly white middle class and upper middle class into a community.”
Home prices in Los Angeles County are still climbing— with the median ticking up just 2.1 percent to $597,500.
Filipinos —especially in historic Filipinotown— have seen luxury redevelopment in their community. They see homeless encampments sprout everywhere.
The government and advocated are proposing solutions to end the homeless crisis here in Los Angeles, but many residents are saying—unless housing become more affordable for everyone again, the problem will have no end in sight.