Homelessness is a complex crisis that was decades in the making, the result of soaring rents and stagnant incomes, racism, the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many other causes.

Los Angeles County housed about80,000 people in the five years since County voters approved Measure H to ramp up housing and services.

According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s 2021 Housing Inventory Count and Shelter Count, interim housing units increased 57% over the previous three years to 24,516 beds and permanent housing slots increased 16% to 33,592 slots over the same period.

LAHSA also noted that permanent housing placements have grown 74% on an annual basis between 2015 and 2020, while interim housing placements have grown 44%.

On an annual basis,  according to LAHSA, the system is preventing three times as many people from becoming homeless and engaging three times as many people through outreach efforts.

Despite substantial gains in housing and services, the 2020 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) found 66,436 people experiencing homeless countywide, 75% of them unsheltered. 

This point-in-time census of the homeless population estimated that while an average of 207 people exit homelessness every day – with or without public assistance – 227 people become homeless during the same period.

One of the primary drivers of homelessness is the severe lack of affordable housing.

According to the 2021 LA County Annual Affordable Housing Outcomes Report by the nonprofit California Housing Partnership, the County has a shortfall of 499,430 affordable homes.

The report added that renters countywide need to earn $38.23 per hour – 2.5 times the minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles during the report’s publication – to afford the average monthly asking rent of $1,988.

Black people are overrepresented in the homeless population nationwide. The groundbreaking  2018 report by LAHSA’s Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness noted that while Black people represented only 9% of the County’s general population in 2017, they comprised 40% of the homeless population.

According to the report, “The impact of institutional and structural racism in education, criminal justice, housing, employment, health care, and access to opportunities cannot be denied: homelessness is a by-product of racism in America.”

The County’s Anti-Racism, Diversity, and Inclusion (ARDI) Initiative is currently developing an action plan to implement the 67 recommendations developed by the Ad-Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness, along with a Racial Equity Action Plan.

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