LA County homeless numbers up 12 percent, LB slightly rises by 2 percent

Elected officials say more resources, permanent housing needed to mitigate crisis.

Pictured+is+a+graphic+that+displays+information+regarding+Long+Beach%E2%80%99s+homeless+population%2C+gathered+from+the+point-in-time+%28PIT%29+count+event+that+was+conducted+Jan.+24.+The+count+shows+an+increase+of+2+percent%E2%80%93+a+difference+of+31+individuals%E2%80%93+compared+to+2017.
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LA County homeless numbers up 12 percent, LB slightly rises by 2 percent

Pictured is a graphic that displays information regarding Long Beach’s homeless population, gathered from the point-in-time (PIT) count event that was conducted Jan. 24. The count shows an increase of 2 percent– a difference of 31 individuals– compared to 2017.

Pictured is a graphic that displays information regarding Long Beach’s homeless population, gathered from the point-in-time (PIT) count event that was conducted Jan. 24. The count shows an increase of 2 percent– a difference of 31 individuals– compared to 2017.

Courtesy City of LB

Pictured is a graphic that displays information regarding Long Beach’s homeless population, gathered from the point-in-time (PIT) count event that was conducted Jan. 24. The count shows an increase of 2 percent– a difference of 31 individuals– compared to 2017.

Courtesy City of LB

Courtesy City of LB

Pictured is a graphic that displays information regarding Long Beach’s homeless population, gathered from the point-in-time (PIT) count event that was conducted Jan. 24. The count shows an increase of 2 percent– a difference of 31 individuals– compared to 2017.

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Whether it was a significant increase or a modest one– in the case of Los Angeles County and Long Beach, respectively– the fact remains that efforts to curb the homeless crisis have not prevented more individuals from becoming displaced, according to data released this week.

On June 4, the City of Long Beach released its numbers from the 2019 point-in-time (PIT) homeless count event conducted earlier this year, revealing that 1,894 people were identified as experiencing homelessness in 2019, compared to 1,863 in 2017– a difference of 31 individuals. The numbers demonstrate an increase of 2 percent.

“Homelessness is a statewide crisis that impacts all of us,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia in a statement. “The data shows that Long Beach continues to make progress in housing people in need, but we must do more to get folks into permanent housing and to protect vulnerable populations.”

In a presentation to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) released the results of the countywide 2019 homeless count– which includes Signal Hill. The data showed that 58,936 people in Los Angeles County are experiencing homelessness– a 12-percent jump from last year’s point-in-time count of 52,765.

Los Angeles itself experienced a 16-percent increase to 36,300, according to LAHSA.

“The homelessness crisis took decades to create, and we knew it wouldn’t be solved overnight, but that doesn’t mean these latest numbers aren’t disheartening,” said 4th District Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn in a statement. “Even though our data shows we are housing more people than ever, it is hard to be optimistic when that progress is overwhelmed by the number of people falling into homelessness. This data makes clear the serious challenges that we face, but it does not change this board’s commitment to addressing this unprecedented crisis with unprecedented resources.”

According to LAHSA, new resources coming into the homeless-services system will help continue efforts to combat the issue, including a $460 million Measure H budget for Fiscal Year 2019-20 (a $58-million increase over FY 2018-19), and California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s May budget revision that added $650 million in one-time funding.

Measure H is a tax initiative that generates revenue for homeless services in the county.

“Our ability to reach, serve and house people experiencing homelessness has risen enormously since voters made unprecedented investments in our homeless services system in 2016 and 2017,” said Peter Lynn, executive director of LAHSA. “And [it’s] at the same time our regional housing affordability crisis continues to drive thousands into homelessness. It’s critical that we work with local community members and every level of government to increase affordable housing, limit rent increases and prevent unjust evictions while we continue to scale up and refine our system.”

In its press release this week, the City of Long Beach noted that the 2-percent increase demonstrates those living on the streets. The individuals who are displaced are primarily adults (more context is provided in the accompanying graphic).

City officials noted a silver lining– despite the increase in homelessness, there was an 8-percent reduction in chronically homeless individuals, showing a decrease from 686 in 2017 to 632 in 2019.

More than 2,150 people have been permanently housed since 2017, officials said. However, the data also shows that 52 percent of people surveyed during the count reported being homeless for the first time, compared to 43 percent in 2017.

Courtesy City of LB
The above graphic shows in-depth details regarding Long Beach’s 2019 homeless population.

“Unfortunately, our count also shows that new people continue to fall into homelessness,” Garcia said. “More than half of the people in our count are new first-time homeless. While this is not surprising because of the statewide housing affordability crisis, it is cause for concern, and it means we have to continue to do more every day to address our housing shortage and help our residents stay in their homes.”

City officials did note several programs and efforts to combat the homeless issue, including the convening of an interdepartmental team that meets monthly to discuss the City’s integrated approach to homelessness. Long Beach is also one of only three cities in Los Angeles County to operate its own Continuum of Care, a local planning body funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that coordinates and funds housing and services for families and individuals experiencing homelessness.

The Multi-Service Center serves as an institution for people who are at-risk of or experiencing homelessness, as well, officials said.

As reported by the Signal Tribune, the City also accomplished the following: In January, officials announced that a new year-round shelter will be established in north Long Beach; The Spark at Midtown, featuring 95 units of affordable housing, broke ground in March; Vistas del Puerto, a 48-unit affordable housing development, broke ground a week after The Spark; and Las Ventanas, which broke ground this week, will provide 102 affordable apartment units.

Last year, the City also launched Everyone Home Long Beach, which is designed to provide new pathways into homes and prevent residents from falling into homelessness, according to officials.

In a phone interview with the Signal Tribune earlier this year, Shannon Parker, the City of Long Beach’s homeless-services officer, said the City will begin transitioning to an annual count, as opposed to a biennial one in years past.

Instead of waiting until 2021 for the next round of identifying Long Beach’s displaced individuals, the City will be able to get accurate data on a yearly basis. Parker said the decision to change the frequency of the count was made sometime last year in May or June to mirror the way Los Angeles County conducts its procedure.

For a full breakdown of the 2019 homeless numbers, visit lahsa.org/homeless-count.