Initial Information Shows Downward Trend in the Palisades
By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority released a report indicating that despite more people being rehoused, there is a 12.7% rise in homelessness throughout the county.
The June 12 report is based on the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, which took place near the end of January 2020 and included a count in the Palisades, with the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness and more than 60 local residents volunteering.
The official numbers for the Palisades are not yet published by LAHSA, Kim Clary, who sits on the PPTFH Board of Directors, shared with the Palisadian-Post. However, the approximate numbers from the count in January 2020 show that the number of individuals experiencing homelessness are trending down in the community, as well as the number of cars, vans, RVs and campers.
“[In the Palisades,] seven of our local homeless individuals were housed last month,” Pamela McGranahan, PPTFH communications committee chair, shared with the Post, “and this month, one of our local homeless vets just moved into an apartment.”
McGranahan added that seven in one month was an “unusually” high number.
Throughout the city of Los Angeles, the number of people experiencing homelessness rose 14.2% to a total of 41,290. The report showed that 66,433 people in the county are experiencing homelessness versus 58,936 at last year’s point in time.
“LAHSA does not like these numbers because we know first-hand that we have done so much to increase the effectiveness of our systems and bring tens of thousands of people inside,” said Heidi Marston, executive director of LAHSA. “This year’s results reinforce that our community must address the deep-rooted causes within larger safety net systems that stop people from falling into homelessness.”
This year’s count took place before the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic could be considered or responded to through initiatives such as Project Roomkey, rent freezes and eviction moratoriums, according to the report.
“Coronavirus laid a sudden crisis on top of the long-standing catastrophe of homelessness,” Marston shared in the report. “We’re planning a way through that allows us to take care of the most vulnerable and build capacity for the future.”
Due to COVID-19, there were 6,010 people rapidly sheltered since the Safer at Home order went into place in March. Of those, 4,056 were housed through Project Roomkey, 1,708 in Recreations and Parks shelters and 246 in trailers.
For LA County, the number of homeless seniors 62 and over increased 20%, a dramatic change requiring special attention. Project Roomkey sheltered 1,953 seniors 62 and over in recent months, so now 37% of seniors in that age category are sheltered.
“Our homeless services system is helping more people than ever, and it’s operating in better alignment with the city, county, and other agencies than ever before,” Marston said. “And it’s not enough.”
“This year’s count revealed that two-thirds of the unsheltered adults experiencing homelessness were homeless for the first time last year,” according to the report, “and 59% of them cited economic hardship as the cause.”
“Homelessness starts rising when median rents in a region exceed 22% of median income,” and in LA, the median rent is 46.7%—or nearly half of median income—according to the report. “The California Housing Partnership Corporation reports that LA County would need 509,000 units of affordable housing to meet current demand.”
Marston and John Marceri, CEO of The People Concern, will speak on “The Homeless Front: Where Are We Now?” at the next Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homeless meeting, taking place virtually on July 27 and from 7 to 8 p.m.
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