The homeless population in Los Angeles County grew 4.1% over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, reaching 69,144 people, according to statistics released Thursday by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA). The City of Los Angeles also saw an increase, albeit a smaller one of 1.7%, bringing the total to 41,980 homeless people.
The annual homeless count had been delayed for more than a year due to the difficulties and risks of collecting data during the coronavirus pandemic.
A statement by LAHSA congratulated local authorities for policies that, it said, prevented a bigger increase in homelessness:
This year’s Homeless Count results offer a stark contrast to the results of the Homeless Counts between 2018 and 2020, where LA County saw a 25.9% increase and the City of LA experienced a 32% increase.
Over the past five years, LAHSA and its partners have made 84,000 permanent housing placements–enough to fill Dodger Stadium one and a half times. Last year alone, the rehousing system made 21,213 placements.
“While it is too soon to know what this year’s count results will mean long-term, the numbers are suggesting there is a flattening of the curve that is driven by the necessary and effective economic programs that helped keep people in their homes throughout the pandemic,” said Kristina Dixon, Acting Co-Executive Director at LAHSA.
Oddly, the LAHSA press release also credited Los Angeles area leaders with “following CDC guidance not to remove encampments, to ensure unhoused neighbors could practice social distancing and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” ignoring a very public effort by the City of Los Angeles to move the homeless indoors during the pandemic — often in violation of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. It also ignores at least one effort by local authorities to remove the homeless encampment at Echo Park in Los Angeles.
The fact that homelessness continued to rise underscores the importance of homelessness as an issue in upcoming elections. Billionaire developer Rick Caruso is facing off against frontrunner Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) in the race for L.A. mayor, and each promises to tackle the problem of homelessness, which has made parts of the city more dangerous and less livable.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.