LA County homeless up to 67K as affordable housing efforts lag

Latest count was conducted well before virus outbreak

Homeless tents lining sidewalks in Skid Row (Credit: David McNew/Getty Images)
Homeless tents lining sidewalks in Skid Row (Credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

With the latest homeless population count showing a 13 percent rise from the year before, Los Angeles’ affordable housing efforts appear to be falling further behind the rapidly growing need.

L.A. County’s homeless count stands at 66,500, the Los Angeles Times reported. The L.A. Homeless Services Authority conducted the annual tally in January, before the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest homeless count tallied 7,500 more people experiencing homelessness countywide than the previous year, whose increase was attributed in part to the lack of affordable housing.

The highest concentration of homelessness for this year’s count was in the city of L.A., which saw its population jump 14 percent to about 41,300.

The economic devastation Covid-19 has taken on L.A. — not to mention its toll on lives — has translated into 600,000 people who have lost their jobs, the Times reported.

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Last month, UCLA released a report that showed an estimated 365,000 residential evictions would be carried out in L.A. County once the current statewide moratorium lifts and 120,000 households could become homeless for some period of time.

This week, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles — a group representing landlord interests — sued the city, calling the eviction moratorium unconstitutional and said it provided no relief to property owners.

During the pandemic, California implemented a plan to house medically vulnerable people — including the homeless — in hotels during the pandemic. Around 3,200 rooms have been rented and 2,100 occupied countywide.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said that a “FEMA-like response to homelessness in the face of a pandemic” has given him optimism when it comes to tackling the larger homeless crisis.

“We’re seeing the scale of what it takes, not just to contain, but to begin to reverse the homelessness,” Garcetti said. [LAT]Dennis Lynch