More L.A. Latinos falling into homelessness, shaking communities in ‘a moment of crisis’
Homelessness in the Los Angeles region is spiraling out of control, causing unprecedented community and generational upheaval in a moment of crisis, The Times has learned.
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Care Services, which oversees mental health services and homeless programs, says the number of adults and children homeless on any given night is now double what it was just a year ago.
Housing programs across Southern California are in crisis. The vast majority of those who are living in shelters are chronically homeless, according to an analysis by The Times: Those who are homeless but do not have a criminal background, as many have been the last few years, may be considered a “housing first” group, meaning they first try working with counselors to get into housing before moving on to help programs.
At least 60 percent of Los Angeles County’s homeless population is now someone who was homeless for at least a year, according to a recent report by the Homeless Outreach and Education Association, which serves as the county’s emergency services branch.
A decade of homelessness in the L.A. metro area has been unprecedented in many ways, from an increase in the total number of people experiencing homelessness to a sharp increase in the number experiencing chronic homelessness, to a decrease in people living with the same chronic needs — and, to a degree, the same solutions — that have been implemented over the past decade.
Housing and services for homeless veterans have seen a rise in the number of individuals who have been forced into homelessness by illness or injury. Shelter beds are becoming even tighter, with L.A. County now operating at a ratio of one shelter bed for every 15 to 17 people experiencing homelessness, up from one shelter bed for every six people in a decade before that.
All of this has been taking place alongside a significant generational migration to Southern California that has been unprecedented in the region’s history.
“We’re seeing a complete transformation of the L.A. homeless population with increasing numbers of individuals being homeless for an extended period of time,” said James W. Wilson, executive director of Los Angeles County Homeless Services, who was appointed to head the L.A. County Department of Health Care Services in 2017. “That in and of itself is unprecedented —