LOS ANGELES (FOX11) - Many in Los Angeles call our homeless problem "an epidemic," that continues to get worse.
On Saturday, some Congressional leaders took to the streets of Skid Row in downtown L.A. to help come up with a solution.
Homelessness in L.A. County is up 12% this year, close to 60,000 people. Meanwhile, in the city homelessness is up 16% to about 36,000.
"It is time to declare a state of emergency and all that that entails," says Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass. "In the United States in 2019, for anybody to get typhus, this is just absolutely scandalous."
Bass and five other members of the Congressional Black Caucus visited the Downtown Women's Center to meet some of the people fighting homelessness. Congressional leaders say policy has to change at the federal, state and local levels.
"In L.A., we've seen rent go up 30% at the same time income has gone down 3%," says Downtown Women's Center Chief Program Officer Erika Hartman.
"What we found in the recent homeless count numbers were that more than half of the folks experiencing homelessness were really experiencing homelessness due to unemployment or underemployment. Even when people have jobs, it is really prohibitive for them to pay the rent at the rate it's been increasing."