Number of homeless in Los Angeles, California rises sharply

Tents housing the homeless and their belongings crowd a streetcorner in downtown Los Angeles, California on April 20, 2017. (AFP photo)
The number of homeless people in Los Angeles, California, has soared 20 percent since last year despite increased efforts to tackle the humanitarian crisis in America’s second largest city, according to new figures.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) said 34,189 people currently have no permanent roof over their heads, compared to 28,464 in 2016.
LAHSA said 57,794 people are homeless in the wider Los Angeles County, as opposed to 46,874 in 2016, a 23 percent increase.
The number of homeless people in Los Angeles County is the highest observed there, according to federal data that begins in 2007.
Soaring rents and the cost of living were partly to blame for the chronic homelessness crisis that has plagued Los Angeles for years and earned it the unenviable title of "The Homeless Capital of America."
“It just bespeaks the human tragedy that’s been going on in Los Angeles for decades and decades,” said Philip Mangano, a former head of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which guides national policy.
“There’s a certain group of Americans who have living situations closer to a third-world favela than what one would expect in the entertainment capital of the world,” he said.
According to the 2017 count, 4,828 war veterans from the US military are homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County, a 57 percent increase from 2016.
“There's no sugarcoating the bad news,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference Wednesday. “We can’t let rents double every year. I was particularly disappointed to see veteran numbers go up.”
A homeless woman sits outside her tent along a sidewalk in downtown Los Angeles, California on April 20, 2017. (AFP photo)
National numbers for 2017 have not yet been released. A number of states, including in the west, have seen their homeless figures rise in recent years. High rents and a low supply of affordable housing are often labeled as the main culprits.
New York, America’s largest city, had 74,000 homeless people last year, the highest in the nation.