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Homelessness in LA Seems More Common Because It Is

The number of homeless people in LA has shot up again; 74 percent of homeless residents are unsheltered

Los Angeles is struggling to make headway in its battle with homelessness, looking at myriad options to fund a billion-dollar-plus plan to get people off the streets, and help can't come soon enough. New numbers from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority's annual homeless count, which took place over a few days this past January, indicate that homelessness in both Los Angeles and LA County has continued to increase.

The homeless count found 46,874 homeless residents living in the LA County area, an increase from 44,359 when they did the 2015 count, says a release from LAHSA. The vast majority of those people—74 percent—were unsheltered, meaning they were living on the streets in tents or makeshift shelters, or residing in cars. Unsurprisingly, the amount of "visible" homelessness rose by a full fifth—20 percent—while overall homelessness countywide is up 5.7 percent.

In the city of Los Angeles, the count found 28,464 homeless people—an 11 percent increase from the previous year's count. A full 21,338 of those people were unsheltered. The LA Times says that this year's rise "marks the fourth consecutive year of rising homelessness in L.A."

The report did have some kernels of good news. Veteran homelessness is down 30 percent across the county—a big deal as LA is famous for having the highest concentration of homeless vets. In 2015, LAHSA counted 4,362 homeless veterans; this year's count found that had fallen to 3,071. The Times chalks that up to "an infusion of hundreds of millions of dollars in housing and other aid from the VA and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development." (In other words, not the city.)

Mayor Eric Garcetti's budget for the next year would have the city spend $138 million on fighting homelessness, with the money coming from "as-yet-uncertain resources," like profits from the sale of some city-owned properties, says the Downtown News. LA County has pledged $100 million toward homelessness.