After a big spike last year, the city and county of Los Angeles have seen modest decreases in the number of homeless people in 2018, according to the results of the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count released Thursday.
The number of homeless in the county fell by 3 percent to 53,195, and by 5 percent in the city of Los Angeles to 31,516.
The count was conducted over several nights in January by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority along with more than 8,500 volunteers.
"The numbers are promising in the fact that there are significant reductions in homelessness among veterans and the chronically homeless,'' said
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose district includes the northern San Gabriel Valley, Burbank, Glendale and parts of the San Fernando Valley.
"In my district, there is an estimated 25 percent decrease overall -- much of this can be attributed to increases in housing placements and an uptick in the coordination between county agencies and community-based providers,'' she said.
LAHSA reported last year that the number of homeless in Los Angeles spiked by 20 percent to 34,189 and increased by 23 percent in the county to 57,794, although LAHSA recently said the numbers in the county were found to be inflated by 2,746.
Since the release of last year's count, city and county officials have passed numerous initiatives aimed at combating the problem of homelessness, but few top officials were predicting the number of transients had decreased before the numbers from 2018 were released.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti had said he did not expect the number to be reduced in any significant way, although he believed an impact would begin to be made throughout this current year as several major programs to fight homelessness are being fully implemented.
The initiatives include Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond measure approved by city voters to build permanent supportive housing for the homeless, although no units have been completed yet. Another program is Measure H, a sales tax increase approved by county voters in 2017 expected to raise $355 million annually for homeless programs, and the city's plan to spend at least $20 million for temporary homeless shelters.
Gov. Jerry Brown has also proposed dedicating $359 million in budget surplus money this coming fiscal year for homeless programs, but Garcetti and some other leaders want at least $1.5 billion set aside. If the funding is approved, nearly 52,000 Angelenos would receive housing and services over a three-year period. Garcetti's office said.
"While the reduction in our homeless population in the city and county of Los Angeles is modest at best, we are -- at last -- headed in the right direction,'' said Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes Skid Row where an estimated 2,000 homeless people are located. "We need to continue pushing forward with our strategic plan and build the housing the voters mandated that we produce. And we need our governor and state electeds to match ours and the county's efforts and help us get people off the streets and into emergency and long-term housing and services as quickly as possible.''
LAHSA is in charge of the count for what is called the continuum of care for the entire county except for Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach, which conduct their own counts. But the numbers released by LAHSA include the results from those three cities.