Los Angeles' Homeless Population Continues to Increase

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Los Angeles County continues to struggle in its fight against homelessness.

Despite adding thousands of beds since 2015 and millions of dollars in funding approved by two recent tax measures to combat chronic homelessness, the county's efforts have been unable to meet the demand of the worsening homeless problem in the county. The expansion of permanent housing supply in Los Angeles is not enough as the county's homeless population continues to increase, according to a report by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

A Los Angeles Times analysis of the report showed that annual funding for the homelessness program fell short by $73 million, and could more than triple because officials underestimated new housing demand when voters approved new tax measures last year.

To provide adequate permanent housing to fill the demand, the area would have to invest in more than 20,000 new units, about 5,000 more than estimated two years ago, the report said. Since 2015, the area has added about 6,000 new units of permanent supportive housing. According to the Times analysis, the additional costs could reach about $200 million, adding on to the current costs to reach more than $270 million.

The local homelessness agency released the long-awaited report as an update to expand upon an initial report presented in 2015. It plans to announce an analysis of updated numbers of the county's homeless population in March of 2018. The report aimed to "provide a resource map to achieve the functional end to homelessness in Los Angeles County," and outline how current systems are utilized to combat homelessness.

Policy implications of the report focused on where resources should be allocated to be "most effective at making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring." The report emphasized that high rents and an overall shortage of affordable housing "underpin the analysis as a whole," suggesting that the lack of housing options hinders the area's ability to diminish the numbers of its homeless residents.

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