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Homeless numbers increase

Could strain county resources

Posted: July 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.

A marked increase in the homeless population of Los Angeles County could further strain the limited resources available to address the issue, officials said Friday.

The number of homeless people living in Los Angeles County has grown by 16 percent in the last two years, an increase of more than 8,000 individuals, according to data released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.

The estimated homeless population of 58,423 is still less than 1 percent of the county’s total population, which the U.S. Census Bureau pegs at around 9.9 million.

The increase in the county’s homeless population has been accompanied by a decrease in federal funding, according to Michael Arnold, executive director of the Homeless Services Authority.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen a significant reduction in federal resources available to fight homelessness,” said Arnold in a news release. “The increase we see today in our homeless population demonstrates the direct relationship between resources to address the problem and our ability to have an impact.”

Some of those reductions include federal stimulus funds that were used to quickly re-house those who are homeless.

While the homeless population as a whole has increased, the number of homeless veterans has decreased over the last two years from 8,131 in 2011 to 6,291 in 2013, according to the numbers released Friday.

Arnold said part of the reason for that is increased federal funding and housing vouchers given to veterans since 2011.

The data released Friday was collected by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority during its 2013 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which took place around the county earlier this year.

The count is held every two years and entails volunteers heading out during a specific night to count the number of visible homeless people in an area.

Santa Clarita was one of the 72 cities in Los Angeles County to take part this year, with dozens of local volunteers turning out in January for the late-night count.

Tim Davis, the executive director of the Bridge to Home group that oversees the Santa Clarita Valley homeless shelter, told The Signal in January that the city count helps determine what kind of services are needed to aid the local homeless population.

Area-specific homeless data will be made available in the coming weeks, according to Homeless Services Authority spokeswoman Mary Nemick.


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