Sixteen percent of all murder victims this year in the city of Los Angeles were homeless.
According to Los Angeles Police Department officials, only 1% of Los Angeles’ population is homeless, yet 31 of the 198 homicide victims this year are homeless. The amount of homeless victims killed this year is double what it was in 2015, even though the overall number of homicides in L.A. is lower. Much of this is due to an increase in the homeless population, but part of it is due to reporting—homelessness among victims was often ignored.
Unless the murder is particularly brutal we rarely hear about these victims in the news. Yet the threat of potentially violent homeless neighbors is talked about often, particularly in conversations about housing solutions in our local neighborhoods.
The LAPD is starting to include outreach and education in their approach to homelessness, and there is more attention paid to the housing status of homicide victims. But the numbers speak for themselves.
Homelessness makes our neighbors lives and environments less predictable—especially in cases of drug abuse—but more than anything it makes them more vulnerable. Even in cases of violence by homeless individuals, the victims are frequently homeless themselves.
Unless we can create further housing solutions in our neighborhoods, our homeless neighbors will continue to be at greater risk.
United Way of Greater Los Angeles works around the clock with local partners to help our neighbors move off the streets into safe and stable homes. In the last two years alone, we’ve helped provide housing to more than 30,000 of our formerly homeless neighbors.
If you’d like to take a more active role in ensuring the safety of our neighbors, consider joining United Way’s Everyone In™ coalition or donating to United Way’s work. Visit EveryoneInLA.org and UnitedWayLA.org for more information.