The homeless rate in the state of California is the highest in the country. A majority of the homeless population in the state live in Los Angeles County and in surrounding counties in Southern California. There are a number of primary reasons why Los Angeles has a high number of homeless individuals and families.
The Los Angeles Job Market
The state of the Los Angeles job marker is the main factor in the high number of homeless people in the city and the county. The unemployment rate in Los Angeles does tend to run higher than what is found in much of the country. However, the real issue isn’t the unemployment rate as it is the underemployment rate.
In Los Angeles, there is a notable segment of individuals that, although employed, are not making a living wage. They are not earning enough money to meet their basic needs, specifically housing. This is particularly the case when it comes to working parents. Indeed, it is particularly the case when it comes to single working parents.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Union Rescue Mission, one of the largest shelters of its kind in the United States, recently remarked in an interview that about a third of the guests in the URM facility were working homeless individuals. This is a rate that is a bit higher than what is found in many other locations in the United States.
The Los Angeles Rental Market
A primary reason why Los Angeles has such high numbers of homeless people arises from the fact that the city is the least affordable rental market in the United States. This is based on data developed by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies.
The sad reality is that a significant percentage of Los Angelinos have been priced out of the rental market in recent years. They simply cannot afford safe, affordable housing. The issue of safe, affordable housing becomes even more significant when those looking for housing are families with children.
A growing number of homeless shelters in and around Los Angeles County recognize the horrible impact an unaffordable rental market is having on families. Organizations like the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles are taking in large numbers of families each and every night. This particular shelter houses about 800 people who are part of family units that come to the facility each night. Of this number, about 325 are children.
Drug Abuse and Addiction in Los Angeles
Another reason why there is a high number of homeless people in Los Angeles arises from the percentage of individuals in the city who struggle with drug abuse and drug addiction. Left untreated, a considerable number of individuals with a drug addiction end up facing safe housing issues. An alarming number of these Los Angeles residents stuck in a cycle of drug abuse or drug addiction end up homeless, according to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council.
The widely reported, and as yet effectively addressed, the opioid crisis is contributing to the uptick in homeless in Los Angeles. This trend is not expected to abate any time soon because of the fact that little progress is being made in regard to the opioid crisis, in Los Angeles, in California, and across the United States.
Youthful Runaways in Los Angeles
Another contributing element to the large number of homeless people in Los Angeles stems from runaway youth in the city and county. This includes runaways from Los Angeles and the state of California. However, it also includes young people who run away from somewhere else in the United States and then migrate to California. These minors think that California will be a land of opportunity for them when the exact opposite proves to be the case.
The streets of Los Angeles prove particularly dangerous for runaway youth. These young people oftentimes end up becoming involved in the drug trade and prostituting themselves in order to make at least some money. Even with these illicit efforts, these young people end up living on the streets or in homeless encampments.
Growing Homeless Encampments in Los Angeles
As a result of the high number of homeless people in Los Angeles, there has been a marked increase in the number of homeless encampments in the city and county. These homeless encampments are cropping up not only in the hardscrabble sectors of LA but across the city and county. This includes homeless encampments popping up in some of the more affluent sections of the city and county.