In the city of dreams and golden sunshine, a harrowing scenario continues to unfold. According to the most recent data from the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority (LAHSA), the city’s homelessness crisis has spookily risen by ten percent, while countywide, the increase stands at nine percent. Once known solely for twinkling Hollywood stars, Los Angeles is now recognized for its growing constellation of homeless citizens, insisting on an assessment of the root cause and seeking libertarian prospects for solutions.
Los Angeles County homeless population spikes to over 75,000.
Homelessness has increased by ten percent in the city of Los Angeles, and it has increased in Los Angeles County by nine percent.
— 1776 (@TheWakeninq) July 5, 2023
In this year’s count, LAHSA reported approximately 75,518 homeless individuals across Los Angeles County – a surge from 69,144 last year. Moreover, within the city itself, around 46,260 individuals have been identified as homeless, a substantial ascent from 41,980 in the previous year. Half of the “unsheltered populace” across the nation now calls California home – a dreadful distinction for the Golden State.
Renowned experts have echoed the grave concerns surrounding this predicament. Dr. Va Lecia Adams Kellum, LAHSA’s Chief Executive Officer, remarked, “The homeless count results tell us what we already know, that we have a crisis on our streets, and it’s getting worse.” LA County Board of Supervisors Chair, Janice Hahn, released a concerning statement, expressing frustration despite the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars invested in alleviating this problem.
These numbers have led to direct criticism of the previous count methodology, with even the 2022 LAHSA count that reported zero homeless individuals in Venice Beach being questioned. In light of this, a more advanced counting application has been implemented, and a demographer and two data scientists have been employed to provide accurate results.
Controversy also surrounds Democratic Mayor Karen Bass’ claims of housing at least 14,000 homeless individuals under her administration, amidst reports that the city has been spending over $800,000 per housing unit. And while LA is among the US cities with the sharpest increase in homelessness, it is by no means alone. As per LAHSA, Chicago witnessed a 57 percent increase, while Portland experienced a 20 percent rise. In California, homelessness in Kern County, San Bernardino County, San Diego County, and Riverside County increased by 22, 26, 22, and 12 percent, respectively.
This unprecedented and disturbing increase has led to the recent go-aheads for homeless camping bans in cities like San Diego and Portland, an approach which, though devoid of any libertarian principles, underscores the urgency and the enormity of the crisis.
Los Angeles, bearing the emblem of the American dream, stands at a crossroads today. Amid the glamour of Hollywood and the splendor of sun-kissed beaches, it wrestles with a haunting reality that casts a long, somber shadow – the escalating housing crisis. As we recognize the failure of governmental measures to curb this surge despite enormous fiscal outlays, it is evident that a different tact might be needed. A framework that champions the role of individual freedom, private ownership, and limited government perhaps offering a beacon of hope in this growing humanitarian crisis.