According to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty, approximately 254,000 people experience homelessness in LA County during some part of year and approximately 82,000 people live on the street each night.
In 2014, the city declared a state of emergency after they figured out that over 4,000 veterans were living on the streets each night. They planned to end the epidemic by 2015, not knowing how serious the problem really was.
Step Up is a non-profit agency that is helping to convert the abandoned buildings into housing. When the project is completed, it will provide 500 apartments to low-income and homeless veterans. The buildings are set to be ready to move into early 2017.
Veterans are invited to live in the apartments for up to 15 years for free thanks to vouchers provided by the Department of Veteran Affairs. The city hopes that the new housing will help end homelessness for anyone who has served in the US military.
While this is great news for homeless veterans, the homeless population in Los Angeles County increased by 5.7 percent last year. The number of homeless veterans in the county dropped from 4,362 in the 2015 count to 3,071 this year; the number of homeless families slipped from 8,103 to 6,611 this year. But what about everyone else living on the streets of LA county?
According to The New York Times, the overall homeless population increased from 44,359 in January 2015 to 46,874 in January 2016 in Los Angeles County. There was a 20% increase in tents, encampments and vehicles and that is not including Glendale, Long Beach and Pasadena.
New York has the worst homeless problem in the United States and Los Angeles is right behind them. Because of the warmer weather in sunny California, there are more homeless people living in their cars and in the streets than in NYC.
Because of the epidemic, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has decided to increase spending on housing for the homeless in general. LA county has proposed a $98 million increase in order to make a change.
Although Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has pledged to end homelessness among veterans by the end of this year, this is a much bigger problem than just homeless veterans. The help and progress of Step Up and Prop 41 are just the beginning.
“Despite our progress, Los Angeles is facing a historic housing shortage, a staggering mental health crisis, and veterans are becoming homeless every day,” Mr. Garcetti said. “We need all hands on deck to tackle this crisis.”