LOS ANGELES (AP) – The country's homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by an increase in the number of people living on the streets of Los Angeles and other cities on the West Coast.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point in Time account on Wednesday, a report that showed nearly 554,000 homeless people throughout the country during the local counts made in January. That figure has risen almost 1 percent since 2016.
Of that total, 193,000 people did not have access to the night shelter and instead stayed in vehicles, tents, streets and other places considered uninhabitable. The unprotected figure increased by more than 9 percent compared to two years ago.
The increases are higher in several cities on the west coast, where the explosion of homeless people has caused at least 1
City officials, defenders of homeless people and those living on the streets point to one main culprit: the booming economy of the region.
Rentals have skyrocketed beyond affordability for many low-wage workers who could find a place to stay only a few years ago. Now, even a temporary setback may be enough to leave them on the streets.
"Many people in the United States do not realize they could be two checks, three checks, four homeless checks," Thomas said. Butler Jr., who stays in a carefully organized tent near a highway in downtown Los Angeles.
Butler said he was in transitional housing, a type of program that prepares people for permanent homes, for a time but that has mostly lived the streets for the past several years.
The figures in the report support what many people in California, Oregon and Washington have been experiencing in their communities: camps sprouting along highways and rivers; local governments struggling to find money for long-term solutions; The most alarming consequence of the explosion of homeless people on the West Coast is a lethal outbreak of hepatitis A that has affected Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Diego, the popular tourist destination. in a county where more than 5,600 people now live on the streets or in their cars. The disease is transmitted through a virus harmful to the liver that lives in the feces.
The outbreak prompted California officials to declare a state of emergency in October.
The HUD report underscores the seriousness of the problem on the West Coast. 19659002] While the total population of homeless people in California, Oregon and Washington grew by 14 percent in the last two years, the portion of that population considered homeless rose 23 percent to 108,000. That is partly due to the shortage of affordable housing.
In the Seattle boom, for example, the HUD report shows that the homeless population grew by 44 percent in two years to almost 5,500.
The homeless service area that includes the majority of Los Angeles The county, the epicenter of the crisis, saw its total homeless population of more than 55,000 people, more than 13,000 since 2016. Four out of five Homeless people consider themselves unprotected, leaving tens of thousands of people without a place to sleep apart from the streets or parks.
In comparison, while the homeless population of New York City grew to more than 76,000, only about 5 percent is considered unprotected thanks to a system that can immediately place people in an indoor crib.
States of the West Coast, the rise of homeless people has become part of everyday life.
The Monty, a bar in the Westlake neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles, generally does not open until 8 p.m. M. Partner and General Manager Corey Allen said that this is because a nearby shelter requires people who remain there to be in building 7. Waiting until after it opens means the streets are quieter.
Allen said that homeless people have entered their bar to bathe in bathroom sinks, and employees have developed a strategy to prevent people from accessing the panhandle among customers.
Theodore Neubauer, 78, sees the other side. Neubauer says he served in Vietnam but now lives in a tent in downtown Los Angeles. It is surrounded by thriving commercial and entertainment districts, and new apartments that are attracting many young people to the heart of the second most populous city in the country.
"Well, there is a million dollar view," he said.  Helping those like Neubauer is a political priority and political problem in Los Angeles.
Since last year, voters in the city and county of Los Angeles have approved a couple of initiatives to raise taxes that would raise $ 4.7 billion. next decade for affordable housing and services for the homeless. HUD Secretary Ben Carson praised the region for dealing with the problem and not relying solely on the federal government.
"We have to get away from the concept that only the government can solve the problem," he said. 19659017] But Mayor Eric Garcetti said insufficient federal funds for affordable housing and anti-choke programs are part of the reason for the city's current crisis.
"The crisis of homelessness in Los Angeles was not created in a vacuum, and can not be solved by LA alone," Garcetti said in a statement.
Excluding the Los Angeles region, the total lack of housing nationwide would have decreased by 1.5 percent compared to 2016.
The counties of Sacramento, California, which includes the state capital, and Alameda , which is home to Oakland, they also had increases for a year of more than 1,000 homeless people.
In contrast, the HUD report showed a prolonged decrease in homelessness that continues in most other regions. At the national level, the total number of homeless people decreased by 13 percent since 2010 and the unprotected number has decreased by 17 percent during that seven-year period, although some changes in the methodology and definitions throughout of the years can affect the comparisons.
included Atlanta, Philadelphia, Miami, the Denver area, and Hawaii, which declared a statewide emergency for the homeless in 2015.
The point-in-time homeless survey is based on shelter counts and in the streets. While it is imperfect, try to represent how many people are homeless at any given time. Those who regularly work with homeless people say that it is certainly an insufficient count, although many advocates and officials believe that it correctly identifies trends.
The report is presented to Congress and is used by government agencies as a money distribution factor for programs designed to help the homeless.
Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey. AP videographer Krysta Fauria and photographer Jae Hong in Los Angeles contributed to this article.
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