LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — The number of homeless people counted in Los Angeles County has jumped 23 percent, quadrupling the percentage increase from a year earlier.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) said Wednesday that its annual count in January found 57,794 homeless in the county with a population of 10 million. That’s up from about 46,800 in January 2016 and 44,300 in 2015.
In March, L.A. County voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax increase to fund anti-homelessness programs. Measure H kicks in next week and is projected to generate $355 million a year in sales tax for 10 years to fund a variety of programs to combat homelessness. In November, L.A. County voters approved proposition HHH that will add $1.2 billion to build 10,000 units of permanent housing.
In his State of the City address in April, Mayor Eric Garcetti said fighting homelessness would be his top priority. In response to Wednesday’s numbers, Garcetti issued a statement that read in part:
“Voters put their trust in us by passing Measure H and Proposition HHH, to deliver the housing and services that people on the streets desperately need. But we can only solve this crisis by deepening our investment in affordable housing. That’s why we must adopt a linkage fee to help us more than double our production of affordable housing. There are lives on the line, and we must press relentlessly forward until every Angeleno has a safe place to sleep at night.”
The authority, which notes it has improved counting techniques, reports the majority of homeless people in the county have no shelter and are living on streets.
Officials link the worsening problem to the economic stress on renters in greater Los Angeles. They cite data from the Joint Center for Housing Studies showing that more than 2 million households in the county have housing costs that exceed half their income.
“The primary driver is housing rent going up much faster than people’s incomes,” said Peter Lynn, executive director of LAHSA.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)