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Homelessness and Los Angeles

“There was nothing at the end of the rainbow for me here. Hollywood was not a place I dreamed of getting to. I never could take seriously the obsession people have about being a celebrity or getting to Hollywood — I was born next door.”

Robert Redford


Homelessness is a complex and difficult problem. It is intermingled with issues of poverty, healthcare, mental illness, drug abuse, and veteran’s issues, all tough problems on their own.

The National Alliance to End Homelessness, a top-rated charity for homeless issues, lists a number of solutions including a ten-year plan to end homelessness. Nationwide the situation has been improving however LA’s homelessness problem is getting worse.

Increased housing costs, in particular in areas that have large homeless populations, has been cited as cause for the recent rise in homelessness in LA. Funding is another issue. Between 2008 and 2014 LA’s affordable housing fund dropped precipitously from $108M to $26M. The city now has a $1.85-Billion Plan to End Homelessness, however past promises to spend money on homelessness have fallen short.

The resources exist already to try to end homelessness and most other social problems in the United States, including in Los Angeles. What is missing is the political will, and to understand why, you need only look at who the different players are in this situation. On the one hand, you have about 26,000 homeless people, half of whom are women and children and another 25% of whom are vets.

Here is a list of causes of homelessness in Los Angeles as identified by a national report described in an article (link…):

  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Lack of health care
  • Mental illness
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Poverty
  • Job loss

The article linked above estimates that the annual cost to eliminate the problem would be $228 million (of which almost 90% is for permanent housing). You can see a full list of proposed solutions in the article. So, let’s say to be conservative that it will cost double that, or $476 million.

The city has already pledged to spend $100 million annually to combat homelessness. (Mayor Garcetti’s $8.7 billion Los Angeles budget includes big commitment to fight homelessness )

There are more new housing units under construction in Downtown than anywhere else in LA and more units slated to be built here than anywhere else. And with all the businesses moving into the area – the demand for housing will be even stronger. And if a recession hits, prices and rents will become more affordable and everyone who works here and would like to live here but can’t yet afford to – will jump at this short term opportunity. Just like buyers and tenants did during the last recession.

Lastly, DTLA is the only neighborhood that welcomes new housing – and that can save years when it comes to getting permits.


Los Angeles Homeless Man Shares the Harsh Reality of Skid Row

Utah Reduced Chronic Homelessness By 91 Percent; Here’s How

Homelessness is not a problem to be solved, it is many problems to be solved. If you think that forcing landlords to lower their rents is going to solve the problem, you are wrong. There is free market solution, you just need to set up the conditions to make it profitable to solve the problems. One solution will not work because it is not one problem.


Sources and further information:

Curbed: How to Help the Homeless

A plan to house L.A.’s homeless residents could transform parking lots across the city

Here’s how Finland solved its homelessness problem

Los Angeles’ homelessness crisis is a national disgrace

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