Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis has issued the following statement regarding the 2020 Homeless Count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA):
“As businesses shuttered in adherence to our County Safer at Home Order, families already on the edge of economic hardship before the pandemic were on the brink of homelessness after losing their steady income. The COVID-19 crisis has been driving unemployment rates to historic levels, forcing many families to decide whether to pay rent or put food on the table. My resolve is stronger than ever to help individuals and families who need relief.
“We have made gains, but we need to do more as more people are falling into homelessness. In the last year, we have permanently housed over 22,769 individuals, more than 26,032 people entered interim housing, and over 38,865 County residents accessed outreach, engagement, and prevention services. Importantly, more than 6,300 people were prevented from falling into homelessness. While we have made many strides, we still have much work ahead of us. For instance, an average of 207 people exit homelessness every day—while 227 people become homeless. This year’s count revealed that two-thirds of the unsheltered adults experiencing homelessness were homeless for the first time last year, and 59 percent of them cited economic hardship as the cause.
“Like our neighboring counties and other urban populations throughout the country, we are seeing a steady rise in homelessness. Homelessness in Los Angeles County increased by 12.7 percent, according to the homeless count. On any given night, 66,433 people in Los Angeles County are experiencing homelessness, and I fear the COVID-19 crisis will exacerbate our homelessness crisis. A multi-prong approach can help curb homelessness, and I am committed to strengthening our partnerships with homeless service providers, community and faith-based groups, cities, state and the federal government to provide support to families and individuals impacted by COVID-19 and who are experiencing housing instability.
“In the First District, I have worked with our departments, cities, and other partners to support our interim housing efforts for individuals and families. It has been my priority to enhance housing programs that are successfully linking our residents to permanent housing. To that end, I have provided grants to various First District organizations that help our neighbors experiencing homelessness, including:
- Volunteers of America’s Family Crisis Housing: $686,000
- The Salvation Army’s Bell Shelter: $2 million
- LA Family Housing’s Communidad Cesar Chavez: $1.2 million
- The Whole Child’s Safe Families Interim Housing Program: $457,000
“This year’s preliminary homeless count numbers offer us glimmers of hope. For instance, SPA 7 – which encompasses the City of Bell – saw a 10 percent decrease in homelessness. It was the only area to count fewer individuals experiencing homelessness in 2020 than in 2019. With a capacity to serve up to 500 single men and women experiencing homelessness, the Bell Shelter is one of the largest interim housing facilities in the United States and serves as a shining example of how a community can come together to stem the rising tide of homelessness in Southeast Los Angeles County. Further, I partnered with the Salvation Army to open the Bell Oasis, a rapid re-housing project that has 64 affordable housing units, including 43 reserved for veterans. The Bell Shelter and the Bell Oasis illustrate how we must invest in creating the continuum between interim and permanent housing to help our most vulnerable achieve housing stability.
“The count, which was completed in three days in January, found that 5,082 individuals in the San Gabriel Valley are experiencing homelessness, which is a 1 percent increase from the previous year. In the East San Gabriel Valley, the Pomona Hope for Home interim housing facility provides a bed and wraparound services for 200 individuals. We continue to work to create more interim housing options in the San Gabriel Valley. For example, the high need for a Winter Shelter in SPA 3 (San Gabriel Valley) led us to convert the augmented shelter at Bassett Park to a 24-hour Winter Shelter, serving up to 100 people on a daily basis.
“This global pandemic has made very clear that racial equity can no longer be optional: It is an imperative. COVID-19 has shined an unblemished light on the clear disparities in health and medical care for the African American and Latinx communities. Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and by homelessness. According to LAHSA’s report on Black People Experiencing Homelessness, Black people make up 9 percent of the County’s population, but represent more than one-third of the homeless population. Latinxs represent the largest number of individuals experiencing homelessness, making up 36 percent of the County’s homeless population. None of this information is new.
“Historically, housing has been riddled with remnants of redlining, racialized covenants, displacements, and predatory lending practices. In order to effectively help people experiencing homelessness, we must look at housing policy through the lens of racial and ethnic equity. This change starts with each one of us.
“This is why I was proud to author Board motions strengthening LA County’s eviction moratorium to make sure struggling families do not lose their homes during this crisis. As a result, the County has also launched a rental relief program to provide families and individuals impacted by the crisis up to three months of rental assistance.
“We continue to collaborate with our Governor to implement statewide solutions that will build more housing. In April, Gov. Gavin Newsom launched Project Roomkey, an initiative to secure hotel and motel rooms to house people experiencing homelessness and protect them from COVID-19. To date, Project Roomkey has housed 3,696 people in LA County and has provided them wraparound services. This innovative initiative is a short-term solution, and my hope is that our cities, the county, and the state will continue working together to address the long-term needs of our unsheltered brothers and sisters.
“I thank Gov. Newsom for his decisive leadership in protecting our most vulnerable from COVID-19. Our current crisis has made clear that we are all in this together, and we are all better off when everyone has a place to call home.”
Contact: Rosa Maria Santana, Deputy Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org