LA homeless crisis: People showing less patience toward encampments, study shows

A new survey reveals the majority of Los Angeles County residents expect the region's homeless crisis to get worse over the next year, not better. 

The survey, conducted by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, shows 45% of respondents support clearing out homeless encampments regardless if there are shelter beds available. That's up from 39% last year. 

Additionally, 60% of respondents said they supported building short-term shelters rather than long-term housing to help people experiencing homelessness "get off the streets" quickly. That's up from 58% in 2021. 

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"Black and Latina/o residents were the most likely to say that homelessness is ‘poor’ in their area and they are also the most likely to think homelessness will get worse in the next year," said Fernando Guerra, director of the center and professor of Political Science and Chicana/o and Latina/o studies. "We need to start moving the needle on this issue and help the communities most impacted by issues of homelessness." 

The information is from StudyLA’s ninth annual general social survey of Los Angeles residents. The study was conducted from Jan. 4 to Feb. 10 and has a margin of error +/- 3%. 

You can check out full data from the report by clicking or tapping here.

Last week, Los Angeles leaders announced a lawsuit settlement agreement that commits the city to sheltering or housing thousands of homeless people within five years, but leaves unclear how significantly it will expand efforts already underway.

The settlement also draws a sharp distinction between the city’s responsibilities and those of Los Angeles County, which operates the local public health system. The county is also part of the lawsuit but did not settle.

"The city has committed to building a minimum of 14,000 beds and has over 13,000 beds in the process already," City Council President Nury Martinez told a City Hall press conference.

The city estimated that 14,000 to 16,000 units would cost $2.4 billion to $3 billion.

The city’s actual housing commitment will be based on the 2022 point-in-time count of homeless people, which is still underway. Last year’s count was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of January 2020, there were more than 66,400 homeless people in Los Angeles County, with 41,000 within LA city limits.

Under the agreement, the city would create shelter or housing for 60% of homeless people in the city who do not have a serious mental illness, substance abuse disorder or chronic physical illness.

A city audit conducted in February revealed a $1.2 billion program intended to quickly build housing for Los Angeles’ sprawling homeless population is moving too slowly while costs are spiking, with one project under development expected to hit as much as $837,000 for each housing unit.

In recent years, homeless encampments have spread into virtually every neighborhood, while the population has climbed to an estimated 41,000 people. Many are drug-addicted or mentally ill, and violence is commonplace.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.