2024 Los Angeles Official Homeless Count Begins

By U Cast Studios
January 25, 2024

2024 Los Angeles Official Homeless Count Begins
Skid Row, Los Angeles (Photo: Evan Symon for California Globe)

Only 255 homeless of 46,000 received permanent housing through a $67 million program.

This article was written by Evan Symon and originally published by The California Globe.

The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) began their 2024 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. The count is expected to not just show if the number of homeless people increased in both Los Angeles County and the city of L.A. over the past year, but how successful Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass’ Inside Safe homeless program has been.

The L.A. area has seen a continued rise of homeless people since the 2010s, with the only years showing little to no growth in that timespan the skipped-over 2021 count because of COVID-19 and the 2022 recovery year count. However, the 2023 count saw a massive jump of homeless people, going up by 10% within the city, and 9% around the county. The 2023 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count study specifically found that there were an estimated 75,518 homeless people in Los Angeles County, up from 69,144 last year, with a total of 46,260 in the city, up from roughly 42,000 in 2022.

When the final results were released in June of last year, LAHSA even admitted in a press release, “While this year’s increases are slightly lower than previous year-over-year increases in the homeless count, they continue a steady growth trend of people experiencing homelessness in the annual Point-in-Time Count.”

The 2024 count, which began Tuesday night and is expected to go through Thursday, is expected to answer many prevailing questions from last year, including how local efforts have fared and how much more homeless infrastructure the city and county will need to put up in the coming years. But the biggest question it will help answer is if Mayor Bass’ homeless programs, specifically her Inside Safe program, have made any difference.

Mayor Bass is keeping a close eye on the count, even help kick off the count earlier this week. At a rally beginning the count Tuesday night in North Hollywood, Mayor Bass said “The count is an important tool to confront the homelessness crisis. Homelessness is an emergency, and it will take all of us working together to confront this emergency.”

All eyes on the 2024 homeless count totals for LA

What is known is that Karen Bass’s homeless initiatives did not fare well during her first year in office – even her supporters labeled them as failures. Only 255 homeless people out of 46,000 received permanent housing through a $67 million program. While 21,000 were housed in some way, shape, or form, almost all of these were temporary slots, with no statistics showing how many stayed in shelter long-term or went back on the streets. Homeless people have also raised frustrations from how much harder it has become to get help under Bass’ programs, to how many would rather live in tents than be under the shelter offered under her programs.

For experts on homelessness, the 2024 results will be the true mark of how well Bass’ plans have gone under her tenure.

“This count should be interesting,” said Mark Wagner, a Philadelphia-based researcher on homelessness, to the Globe on Wednesday. “You can bet homeless officials have tried to get as many homeless people into shelters or some sort of housing to juke the numbers to make it look better than they are. You know, they do it everywhere before counts, especially here in Philly. But even if they do that in L.A., the numbers can be further skewed. If there is growth and it falls under, say 8%, they can claim it as a win because they slowed down  the homeless growth rate. If there is an actual decline, they can declare that the Mayor’s programs are working. They have a plan for every eventuality to help spin it positively.”

“Except if that rate is higher than last years’. That becomes indefensible at that point. I can go on and on about how LA’s strategy is not working and had everyone saying that it wouldn’t work, but you can just link in our previous conversations on that. The bottom line is that they don’t want an increase of any kind. Worst case scenarios would be a 10% or above rise in homeless, or the county going down in homeless but L.A. the city going up. This count will truly show, in raw figures, how successful Bass has been. A lot of people in LA are going to be nervous over this one.”

L.A. homeless count total are expected to be released by late June.

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