LA has nation’s largest chronically homeless population: report

Skid Row, in Downtown Los Angeles.
Skid Row, in Downtown Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has the highest number of chronically homeless people in the country, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released Wednesday.

Of the 13,000 chronically homeless people in the city, 95 percent live outdoors in cars and encampments, in riverbeds and ravines, or on city sidewalks, according to the report.

L.A. also has the largest number of homeless veterans and unaccompanied homeless youth, with 2,700 vets and 3,000 youths without homes, according to the report. That’s despite the number of homeless L.A. vets decreasing by a third since last year, the L.A. Times reported.

Soaring rents and Congress’ failure to fund affordable housing both contributed to the problem, federal officials said.

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Norm Suchar, director of the federal housing agency’s homeless assistance programs, told the Times that the affordable housing crisis is the major “driver” of homelessness.

That may be beginning to change. Last month, the State of California granted the city $64.6 million to build 553 affordable housing units, and last week voters approved a $1.2 billion bond measure to build 10,000 permanent homes for the homeless over the next decade.

While New York City’s homelessness numbers are higher, with 73,500 homeless people living in the city, the majority live in homeless shelters, which the city is obligated to provide. In L.A., three quarters of the total homeless population lives outdoors. [LAT] — Chava Gourarie