The LA Homeless Crisis (February 2023)
Alan Bye, Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting
@ International Foundation for World Freedom
The Los Angeles homeless crisis has finally come to a standstill; the city of Los Angeles declared an official state of emergency over the homeless crisis back in January of 2023 (CBS News), and other cities have since followed such as Santa Monica, which did the same on February 15 (Westside Current).
A recent tally of homeless people in the Greater Los Angeles area counted over 69,000 people, and authorities believe the number of unsheltered is probably truly higher than that (CBS News). About 42,000 of these people live in the city of Los Angeles. Approximately 48,000 out of the 69,000 people, or 70%, were completely unsheltered or living in their cars (CBS News). This is the highest number of any county in the U.S. and has stayed virtually unchanged over the last decade. Out of the 230,000 unsheltered homeless people living in the United States, about 1 in 5 live in LA County (Politico).
This ever-persisting issue has continued due to the high costs of living in the Los Angeles area, with the average rental cost of an LA one-bedroom apartment being $2,300, and the average cost of a single-family home in LA costing around $900,000. The epidemic of fentanyl addiction and addiction to other opioids during the current opioid epidemic complicates things as well — “almost 40% of unhoused individuals in LA County reported experiencing serious mental illness or substance abuse issues.” (Spectrum News 1)
African Americans account for about 30% of the unhoused population of Los Angeles, despite only accounting for 9% of the total population, and the number of homeless that identify as Latino jumped 25.8% in just the last two years alone. And while the numbers of homeless veterans has decreased, the number of homeless women and seniors have increased in recent years. Chronic homelessness has increased by over 10% (Spectrum News 1).
In early February, new Los Angeles mayor Karen Bass pledged to have 17,000 people homeless people off the streets by the end of 2023. Her strategy is to move thousands of people into motels for now, until the city government works out a long-term fix solution on what to do with the unhoused population (Politico). Sanitation units were seen on February 13 dismantling homeless encampments in Skid Row in order to move people into local motels, much to the dismay of some local residents (ABC News). And while affordable housing units have been built, and are continuing to be built by the city to house the homeless population, they can’t house people fast enough to keep up with the increasing numbers of people falling into homelessness every day (CBS News).
While it is yet to be seen if the current strategy of the upper brass of Los Angeles will pan out well, one thing is certain: we have a true humanitarian crisis in Los Angeles, and something has to be done about it.