Homelessness in Los Angeles soars

Los Angeles’ homeless crisis goes from bad to worse, BBC reports.

While Los Angeles’ entertainment industry nurtures the city’s dreamy image there is a growing crisis in the land of make-believe – a soaring increase in the number of homeless people living on its streets.

Homelessness in Los Angeles County soared by 23% in the past year. The problem has become tangible and inescapable, with makeshift tent encampments cropping up across the sprawling metropolis.

Tourists are shocked to find themselves stepping over people draped in filthy blankets and begging on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

“For the 31 years that I’ve been involved with homelessness… it has gotten worse, far worse than I’ve ever seen before,” says Ted Hayes, a long-time activist.

Hayes says gentrification of the downtown area has begun to scatter a previously concentrated homeless population across the city.

The yearly homeless count in Los Angeles County rose to 58,000 in 2017, up from 46,874 in 2016.

Neighboring areas, such as Orange County, are also experiencing the same upwards trend.

Young people – aged 18-24 – are the fastest growing group of homeless people, up 64%. And children without a home increased 41%

“Those numbers were stunning,” says Kerry Morrison, executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.

With an office on a seedy stretch of Hollywood Boulevard, Morrison says local business owners – along with city officials and myriad charitable organizations – have been working on the issue for years. But they appear to be losing the battle.

There is no shortage of goodwill to try to solve the problem. State legislators are looking at new measures to kick-start the building of affordable housing. In March, voters approved a tax increase, to pay for rent subsidies and services for the homeless.

It means an extra $355m (£272m) will be spent every year, for the next 10 years, on shelters, rehabilitation facilities and services. Last year, another ballot measure secured $1.2bn in funding for permanent housing.

Hayes, in his turn, is sceptical that the current financial windfall will do much to help.


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