If we're doing so much, why isn't it working?

Homelessness in LA County is a complex problem that cannot be solved with simple solutions in a short period. For both individuals and communities, homelessness is like a snowball that, once pushed down a hill, is very difficult to stop.

  • LA County is experiencing a severe housing affordability crisis. It’s basically the push at the top of the hill. The cost of living, especially housing, has risen significantly over the years in Los Angeles. Inflation and insufficient income are nearly impossible barriers for people who cannot afford rising rents. A single financial setback can set a low-income renter out of the housing market altogether and render that person homeless. Source: Homeless Initiative

  • The housing demand still far exceeds the supply. Despite efforts to create more affordable housing, LA County has a shortage of 456,643 units, of which 184,721 units must be affordable to lower income households (very low and low). Funding can create more housing units, but not enough to keep pace with the growing homeless population. Lack of affordable housing also drives up rents, making more people vulnerable to falling into homelessness. Source: Los Angeles City Planning Housing Element

  • Evictions increase the likelihood of homelessness dramatically. Los Angeles is seeing the effects over the past year, since the LA County Eviction Moratorium, which protected residential tenants during the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on March 31, 2023. Evictions for residential tenants (including mobile home space renters) have resumed as normal, and rent increases may also be issued for rent-stabilized units/spaces. The result is more people on the streets. Source: Los Angeles County Department of Consumer & Business Affairs

  • Shelter programs are not adequate to meet the growing need. All of the shelters in LA County have waiting lists, and only about a third of Los Angeles' homeless population is sheltered. Many drift back out. The remaining are living on the streets, along river beds, under freeway overpasses, in cars, behind buildings, in parks, or in other makeshift encampments. Source: ESRI

  • Many people experiencing homelessness struggle with mental health issues and substance abuse. Over time, these problems are debilitating and erode the motivation and functionality of homeless people needing help. While many mental health and addiction treatment services are available, the chronically homeless are most resistant to the support services they need to care for themselves and be rehomed. Source: Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research

In summary, LA County’s homeless problem requires a holistic, full-steam-ahead commitment to reduce and prevent homelessness for the foreseeable future. Effective solutions require dedicated people, efficient tools, and innovative programs to meet the needs of our unhoused neighbors.

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