LA Homeless Population Breaks 'Scary' Record
'We can't let rents double every year,' says LA Mayor Eric Garcetti
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2017 12:00 PM CDT
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A skateboarder rides past a homeless encampment in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
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(Newser) – The number of homeless people in Los Angeles County has hit a new record based on data kept since 2007, with nearly 58,000 people without permanent shelter on a given night. The Los Angeles Times reports that the 23% spike over 2016, described as "staggering" and "scary" by those involved in fighting homelessness, came despite stepped-up efforts to keep vulnerable people in their homes. In the city of LA alone, the tally of 34,000 is up 20% over 2016. The sole bright spot in the block-by-block count carried out in January relates to families: Though the number of individual family members who are homeless increased 30%, the number of them who were unsheltered (meaning not in an emergency shelter or transitional housing) dropped 21%.

The challenge, say officials, is how to expand efforts amid the area's sky-high housing costs. "We can't let rents double every year," LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday upon the findings' release. The median monthly price for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,995, per the Times, and data shows at least 2 million LA and Orange County households shell out more than 30% of their paychecks on housing. "Our city is in the midst of an extraordinary homelessness crisis that needs an extraordinary response," Garcetti said, adding that he was "particularly disappointed" to see a 57% jump in homeless veterans. As bad as the figures are, the Guardian notes that New York City is home to the most homeless people, with 74,000 in 2016, though unlike LA, most spend their nights in shelters. (LA isn't on the list of the 10 neediest US cities.)

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