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LA County declares homeless emergency
Post on 01/11/2023 | keywords:emergency | Hits:349

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The five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to declare a countywide state of emergency over homelessness.

The proclamation will streamline assistance for tens of thousands of people living outdoors, including the deployment of resources and the hiring of people to respond to the issue, such as mental health workers. It also aims to enhance coordinated efforts between local governments.

"We know what to do. We have solutions that work. But simply put, they are not being implemented quickly enough or at a scale large enough to solve this crisis," said Third District Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath, who co-authored the motion with Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

In recent years, the county has gotten 100,000 people off the streets. However, homelessness continues to grow alarmingly, Horvath said.

Shelter officials across 15 states reported a sudden surge in the number of people looking for help, many of whom were single mothers seeking services, The Washington Post reported in July. Some waiting lists have doubled or tripled in months.

Soaring housing costs and persistent inflation on necessities such as gas and food were identified as the main contributors to the recent ballooning in homelessness. There also has been an increase in families with steady jobs that struggled to find affordable housing, the Post said.

According to Harvard University's State of the Nation's Housing report, cost burdens for houses have climbed due to factors such as a 20.6 percent rise in home prices between 2021 and 2022 and a 12 percent jump in rent.

More than 580,000 Americans experienced homelessness in 2020, data from the National Alliance to End Homelessness shows. With more than 160,000 unhoused individuals, California tops the list of states in homelessness.

As of early 2022, the number of homeless individuals in Los Angeles County totaled 69,144, a 55 percent increase from 44,359 in 2015. Among those struggling to find a home, 70 percent were unsheltered, according to the LA County proclamation.

"The residents of Los Angeles County see this crisis play out daily and desire an effective and compassionate solution," it said.

People in the county became homeless due to multiple factors. At the forefront were rent burdens and low paychecks, the proclamation noted. Other reasons such as mental illness, substance abuse, no-fault evictions, job loss, medical incidents and significant unseen costs also contributed to the issue.

The supervisors' decision came a month after LA's newly elected mayor Karen Bass declared homelessness a state of emergency on Dec 12, her first day in office.

"My mandate is to move Los Angeles in a new direction, with an urgent and strategic approach to solving our city's toughest challenges and creating a brighter future for every Angeleno," said Bass.

Just hours after he was sworn in on Dec 21, Long Beach's new mayor, Rex Richardson, also directed his staff to put together an emergency declaration to tackle homelessness.


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