News and Commentary

L.A Homeless Problem Getting Worse

The homeless crisis in Los Angeles has reached crisis-level proportions, with the number of men and women living on the street surpassing the supply of new housing, according to the L.A. Times.

A report from L.A. county’s homelessness agency shows that city officials have been underestimating the needed amount of new housing, ensuring that the city’s “$73-million annual shortfall in funding for the comprehensive homelessness program could more than triple.”

“Providing permanent housing for the county’s chronically homeless population would require more than 20,000 new units, about 5,000 more than projected two years ago,” reports the Times. “The estimated shortage of emergency shelter and short-term rental subsidies also increased by double-digit percentages.”

In the past two years, Los Angeles has seen a spike in tent encampments that coincides with rising costs for housing. Just last year, the massive fire in the city’s Sepulveda pass was sparked by a homeless encampment, causing lost homes and damage to public property.

Since 2015, the homeless population in West Coast cities has seen such an explosion that 10 city and county governments have declared states of emergency.

In the states of California, Oregon and Washington, city governments have not cracked down on street camping, and as a result, a spread of hepatitis A — a liver-damaging virus spread by feces — has afflicted Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Diego.

The outbreak affects not only the safety, health and overall aesthetic of the city, it also affects business. Some bars, such as The Monty bar near downtown Los Angeles, have to wait until after 8 p.m to open their doors “because a nearby shelter requires people staying there to be in the building by 7.”

Back in December, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called for more federal funds to combat the homeless problem.

“Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis was not created in a vacuum, and it cannot be solved by L.A. alone,” he said at the time.

Peter Lynn, executive director of the homeless authority, said Friday that the situation will be getting better since the city’s homeless initiatives are just now starting to take effect.