LA Homeless Project: A day of reporting on homelessness

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Los Angeles County is home to more than 40 percent of California’s homeless population. The most recent count by Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found 46,874 homeless people in LA County, and 28,464 in the City of Los Angeles. That’s too many people to not see. A recent poll showed that homelessness is top of mind for many in LA County, where residents said homelessness was the second biggest problem behind jobs and the economy and ahead of education and crime.

Angelenos across income brackets feel the strain of the housing market; in LA County there’s an affordable housing gap  of 527,000 units. Zocalo’s Joe Mathews told KCRW this anxiety over housing might be driving the polling and the politics. “Seeing the anxiety in the cost of housing, seeing your income’s not coming up, having lived through, not so long ago, the housing crisis in California, the prospect of sleeping on the street maybe doesn’t seem so far away to a larger proportion of the population,” said Mathews.

But fixing the problem will take money.

  • Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed $138 million in the budget to combat homelessness and build more affordable housing.
  • The LA County Board of Supervisors wants to put a so-called “millionaires tax” on the ballot, essentially taxing incomes of $1 million a year, generating $243 million to help fight homelessness.
  • Gov. Jerry Brown has put his support behind an effort to issue $2 billion in bonds to help pay for more housing statewide, much of that for the mentally ill.

“Homeless people are not some class of nameless, faceless folks, they are oftentimes people from our own families, people who grew up in our communities, and they usually want to stay in a neighborhood that they know. That’s why they’re homeless there. And we need to find solutions that are neighborhood based,” Garcetti told Press Play.

On Wednesday KCRW, KCET, KPCC and Southern California News Group are highlighting coverage of the homeless in LA, taking a closer look at some of the people who have found themselves on the street. But we didn’t have the idea first: Bay Area newspapers and public media are also reporting on homelessness.

How to help

There are so many organizations in LA working to help the homeless. Here are just a few organizations working to shelter, feed or provide permanent housing and other necessary services for the homeless.

Housing Works provides permanent supportive housing in market rate apartments in the county.

St. Joseph Center works provide housing and case management that helps people stay permanently housed as they move toward self-sufficiency.

Skid Row Housing Trust is also a permanent supportive housing provider, with onsite mental health treatment, substance abuse recovery, and primary health care.

Los Angeles Mission feeds and shelters those in need, as well as providing classes and services.

Los Angeles Regional Food Bank fights hunger in the community.

Midnight Mission  works to help the homeless become self-sufficient, and provides immediate living necessities.

Downtown Women’s Center addresses the needs of women in overcoming poverty and homelessness.

OPCC and Lamp Community provide fully integrated services to the most traumatized, vulnerable and needy members of our community—homeless individuals, victims of domestic violence, at-risk youth, indigent Veterans, and people dealing with severe physical or mental illness or substance abuse.

(Photo: A Syn)