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LA is spending billions to fix homelessness

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After a modest but encouraging decrease last year in the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County, it is extraordinarily frustrating that the progress has been reversed, with homelessness climbing a grim 12 percent this year in the county and an even more alarming 16 percent in the city of Los Angeles.

That means 58,936 people in the county were living on sidewalks, in cars and vans, in shelters or in parks when the 2019 count was carried out over three nights in January. The number of homeless people in both the city and the county is now higher than it was in 2017.

How can that be? Over the last decade, parts of Los Angeles have become a dystopian landscape of tent encampments, populated by the region's most destitute, afflicted and addicted people, along with those who are merely down on their luck. But since the passage of Measure HHH in 2016 and Measure H in 2017, the city and county have been spending billions of dollars to create new homeless housing and to provide services for those who need them. So why are the numbers still going up? Is the money being misspent? Are our policies faulty? Are we addressing the right problems?

The meager bit of good news is that many homeless people are indeed being helped. Last year, the county says it housed 21,631 people _ more than in any previous year. It also prevented an estimated 5,600 people from falling into homelessness.

But the frightening news is that as fast as the county bailed people out of homelessness, more fell in. There were 3,886 veterans who were homeless in 2018. About 2,800 got housing. And yet, this year the number of veterans counted as homeless was still 3,874. There are more people living in cars, vans and RVs, and there are 17 percent more people in tents and makeshift shelters on........

© The Korea Times