By Ruth Schwartz, Executive Director
Homelessness is largely the result of extreme poverty, and we know that some households are more vulnerable to becoming homeless than others because of life factors. For instance, people with serious mental illness have a greater propensity for becoming homeless. As do young adults in their late teens and early 20’s who have grown up in the foster care system. Poor families with a young single woman head-of-household with young children are also at higher risk. Another group that has a higher likelihood of becoming homeless are the men and women who have served in
our military forces. It is also a fact that persons of color are at greater risk of homelessness than others—especially African Americans and Hispanics.
In January 2013, thousands of individuals throughout Los Angeles County volunteered to undertake a count of people who are homeless on the streets and
in the shelters. Only a handful of cities have released their count numbers, and the results are mixed.
In Glendale and Santa Monica the number of homeless households has increased, while the number of homeless households in Pasadena has gone down. Because of their significant homeless populations, the Long Beach and the City of Los Angeles homeless counts will give us a better sense of whether we are making the significant progress needed to solve homelessness in Los Angeles County.
We’ll have to wait a couple of months for the countywide results to be available. But what we do know is that communities throughout Los Angeles County are working together to try and solve homelessness with varying degrees of success.
We also know a great deal more about how to resolve people’s homelessness. The three critical elements is robust Homeless Prevention programs, Rapid Re-Housing Programs, and what is referred to as “Housing First”—providing housing with supportive services to people with severe mental health issues first, before requiring adherence to mental health treatment.
In my next blog, I will present a perspective on how well our nation is working to resolve homelessness among our men and women who served our country—our nation’s veterans.