Homeless numbers show slight drop in city, county

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — After five years of steady rises, the total number of people experiencing homelessness in the Los Angeles region dropped slightly in 2024, according to results of the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count released June 28.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, a joint powers agency of the city and county, announced the numbers during a news conference, detailing data that was gathered during an annual point-in-time survey conducted by hundreds of volunteers across the region Jan. 24-26.

According to the report:

• There were 75,312 unhoused people in the county in 2024 compared to 75,518 in 2023, a dip of 0.27%.

• There were 45,252 unhoused individuals in the city of L.A. in 2024 compared to 46,260 in 2023, a drop of 2.2%.

• There was a reduction in unsheltered homelessness in L.A. County, with a 5.1% decrease compared to last year, while the shelter count increased by 12.7%.

• And unsheltered homelessness in the city of L.A. decreased by approximately 10.7%, while the shelter count increased by 17.7%.

Officials attributed the downward trends to “unprecedented policy alignment and investments” made by the city, county, state and federal governments,” according to Paul Rubenstein, deputy chief of external relations for the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

The results marked a new direction in how the county and city are addressing homelessness — compared to the steady climb since 2018 when there were 52,765 homeless counted in the county, and 31,285 in the city.

With more unhoused individuals entering shelter or other forms of temporary housing, Rubenstein said officials are “cautiously optimistic about the direction of homelessness across L.A. County” and are in a position to move more people off the streets and into permanent housing.

“For so many years, the count has shown increases in homelessness, and we have all felt that in our neighborhoods,” Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement soon after the latest numbers were released.

“But we leaned into change. And we have changed the trajectory of this crisis and have moved L.A. in a new direction. … This is not the end, it is the beginning — and we will build on this progress, together.”

County Supervisor Janice Hahn, meanwhile, released a statement saying, “For the first time in years, the number of people sleeping on our streets is down and the number of people in our shelters is up. We have focused on shelters and we are doing a better job convincing people to come inside. The next step is building more permanent supportive housing and investing in long-term solutions to this crisis.”

Supervisor Lindsey Horvath described the results as “validation, not victory.” She added, “We must continue to move with urgency across all levels of government and in every community in Los Angeles County to bring our unhoused neighbors inside.”

The count also noted a reduction in chronic homelessness in the L.A. Continuum of Care, covering most of L.A. County except the cities of Long Beach, Pasadena and Glendale. There were 6.8% fewer people experiencing chronic homelessness — a term used to describe individuals who have been homeless for more than a year while struggling with a disabling condition — compared to 2023, the report said. Of those, some 9.4% were unsheltered while 7.5% more were in shelters.

“Our coordinated efforts are moving the needle and we have to stick together in addition to moving people into interim housing,” Rubenstein said. “The rehousing system also gained significant momentum this year.”

He added, “At this rate, if we could stop anyone else from becoming homeless today, we could end homelessness in just a few years.”

In addition, the 2024 count showed family homelessness increased by 2.2%, though many families are in temporary housing. Among transition-age youth — individuals coming out of the foster system between the ages of 16-24 — homelessness decreased by 16.2% and veteran homelessness decreased by 22.9%.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority reported that about 22% of unhoused individuals report experiencing serious mental illness, while another 24% of unhoused individuals report experiencing substance use disorder — both figures decreased compared to 2023 and 2022.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis in a statement said the region is “beginning to bend the curve.”

Veronica Lewis, director of Homeless Outreach Program Integrated Care System, which oversees the county’s Special Planning Area No. 6 (South L.A.), said in a statement it’s clear that with sustained resources “we can envision a future where we end homelessness in L.A. County.”

“Our systems are working to help thousands of individuals and families in Los Angeles County make it home each year and that is especially evident in the decreases in unsheltered and veteran homelessness. Thanks to initiatives like Mayor Bass’ Inside Safe and the county’s Pathway Home, we are seeing renewed focus, better coordination, and a strong commitment to ending the homelessness crisis, Jennifer Hark Dietz, CEO of PATH, a housing provider working across the region, said in a statement.

Following the results of the 2023 Homeless Count, county and city officials committed to a collaborative approach to reducing homelessness and bringing unhoused individuals into temporary and permanent housing.

In December 2022, Bass launched her Inside Safe initiative in an effort to reduce tents and other encampments across city streets and bring unhoused individuals into temporary housing. Bass and the L.A. City Council have also implemented programs aimed at bolstering housing production, increasing shelter beds and sustaining tiny home villages, interim housing sites and other housing facilities with the intent of placing unhoused individuals into permanent housing.

County officials introduced a similar program to that of Inside Safe, known as Pathway Home, in 2023.

The 2024 Homeless Count occurred after a year of Inside Safe being implemented — which at that time had conducted 34 encampment operations and moved some 2,087 people into interim housing. Some participants of the program had returned to homelessness while another 329 moved into permanent housing.

The L.A. Times reported that in recent months Inside Safe brought in another 722 people off the street, and the county’s Pathway Home conducted 10 encampment operations by mid-January, placing 449 into temporary housing. Combined, both programs have permanently housed about 634 people.

Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority officials noted that Measure HHH — a $1.2 billion bond measure approved by L.A. voters in 2016 — has played a significant role in building supportive and affordable housing, which in part led to the results seen in the 2024 Homeless Count.

       
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