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Homelessness: LA County’s Growing Homeless Population Has Fewer Temporary Shelter Options

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[Image via John Kim / Curbed LA flickr pool]

The recent homeless count conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found a 12 percent increase in homeless people on the streets in Los Angeles and LA County, plus a depressing 85 percent rise in people living in tents and vehicles. But there was also a 1,000-person drop in homeless people in LA County who are considered "sheltered," meaning they have some kind of temporary housing that's designed as a stepping stone to finding a long-term home. KPCC says the drop in sheltered people highlights the results of a shift in the way housing is provided to the homeless.

The director of LAHSA says that the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has shifted its approach to providing housing to the homeless, zeroing in on permanent options instead of temporary ones. That means funding shifts too. And since most government money for programs for the homeless comes from federal sources, if it's going towards permanent housing programs, there's relatively little money left for any other type.

Unfortunately, a lack of short-term shelter means that "we don't give anyone an opportunity for anything other than sleeping on the sidewalk," Councilmember Mike Bonin says. Of the areas surveyed, Downtown had the largest numbered of unsheltered people (referring to people who live in tents, vehicles, or makeshift dwellings), with 7,680 counted. South LA followed close behind, with 5,324 unsheltered people on the streets.

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Image via LAHSA Homeless Count

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Image via LAHSA Homeless Count
· As homelessness increases in LA, temporary housing disappears [SCPR]
· A Lot More People Are Homeless in Los Angeles These Days [Curbed LA]