Every two years, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority leads the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. The 2013 Homeless Count was the largest and most comprehensive in the history of LA County, with more than 5,000 volunteers canvassing 4,000 square miles from January 29th to January 31st. Data collected from the count is critical to addressing the complexities of homelessness and planning how to best invest public resources.
Today, LAHSA released data from its 2013 Homeless Count. The report shows 58,423 homeless people in 2013 in the county, compared to 50,214 in 2011 – a 16 percent increase. At the same time, the data demonstrates notable reductions in the number of families and Veterans experiencing homelessness. These reductions are largely attributed to a greater targeting of resources.
Under Home For Good, the L.A. Leaders Task Force on Homelessness has committed to ending chronic and Veteran homelessness in LA County by 2016. To view an analysis of LA County’s Homeless Count numbers from 2005-2013 and the progress made under the Action Plan click here. Below you will find the Task Force's response to this year’s Homeless Count.
L.A. Business Leaders Task Force On Homelessness Response to Homeless Count
Los Angeles, CA -- The co-Chairs of the L.A. Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness, Attorney Jerry Neuman of Sheppard Mullin and Chris Carey, CFO of City National Bank, issued the following statement in response to the release by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) of the results of the greater Los Angeles homeless count, conducted early in 2013. (The Task Force’s Home For Good Campaign to end chronic and veteran homelessness in greater L.A. by 2016 is in its third year of implementation).
“There is some good news here. Homelessness among veterans, a population that Home For Good has targeted, has decreased significantly. That includes a huge drop in female veteran homelessness. And while the overall number of homeless individuals has increased, that is mostly due to a large spike in the number of “hidden homeless” – people who aren’t on the streets, but stay in garages or backyards or other spots that aren’t visible or easily detected. Home For Good has not targeted this population, but clearly this group needs further examination and attention from all those who are invested in ending homelessness.
While the Task Force is in the process of analyzing the data released by LAHSA, our initial analysis leads us to conclude that several factors contributed to the stagnation of chronic homelessness and the increase in hidden homelessness. One is the economic downturn or Great Recession, which we believe was particularly acute in driving the spike in hidden homelessness. Another is the influx of new homeless individuals, which was larger than anyone anticipated and will require additional resources to serve. Sharp reductions in California’s prison population, a reverse surge in which thousands of troops deployed abroad have returned to an economy lacking jobs and a mental health system which is overwhelmed all added to the higher count.
One of the core principles of the Home For Good plan is the collection of reliable data about our homeless neighbors. To that end, we encouraged communities to participate in the 2013 count and they did so in record numbers. Because the 2013 count reached farther and wider than any before, the numbers it reveals present a far more accurate reflection of reality. We will thoroughly examine the data released by LAHSA over the coming weeks. Our analysis and the Task Force’s long term homelessness projections will be presented at our July 12th conference, where more than 300 partners will convene to discuss strategies for the year ahead.
The Task Force continues to believe that a rational, cohesive and integrated system of data, services and housing will ultimately eradicate chronic and veteran homelessness. We remain keenly aware that building and implementing that system is time-consuming and arduous. We also know that changes already in place have produced strong results. Home For Good partners have housed more than 7,000 highly vulnerable individuals during our first two years; the homeless count would have been significantly higher if not for the comprehensive effort that was begun more than two years ago.
We continue to encourage our entire region to address homelessness effectively. We call on all who hope that our region will at last shed, once and for all, its designation as the homeless capital of the U.S. to join with us.”