The following comes from a February 11 Angelus article by R.W. Dellinger:

We left the Los Angeles Mission a little past 9 o’clock on Thursday evening, January 28. The mission of the group I and my editor/photog were tagging along with: to do a point-in-time count of homeless people in census tract no. 2063008 on Skid Row.

The biannual enumeration, known as the 2016 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count, was conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority over three days last month. It was moved up a year after the 2015 count found a 12 percent jump in homeless men, women and children from the previous year. But what really grabbed the attention of elected officials, as well as the public, was that the number of makeshift encampments, tents and vehicles people were living in soared by 85 percent to 9,535.

Now we were out on East Fifth Street, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas in front setting a healthy pace. Dressed in a newspaper boy’s cap and black-on-gray college letter jacket, he didn’t seem to notice the stench. But you didn’t have to breathe hard to inhale the urine-stained sidewalks. Staff from his second district office in suits walked behind, along with LASHA people, including two outreach workers, and a print reporter — adding up to a dozen in our moving nighttime caravan.

Although no stranger to Skid Row, even after dark, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’s almost jaunty walking demeanor was subdued.

“Um, it’s depressing,” he told me. “It’s heartbreaking to have to come to grips with human beings who find themselves in such circumstances. And it adds a different level of meaning to public policy making. It’s one thing to sit behind a desk and try to make policy. It’s another thing to stare the issues directly in the face, literally.

“What’s even more disturbing is how the problem as such has extended well beyond Skid Row. And it means that we have not done all that we could and should do. We have lost ground — there’s no question in my mind about it — in the fight against homelessness.

Note: Results of the 2016 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count will be released later this year.

Sad stats from 2015 homeless count
Last year’s Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count reported a number of disturbing findings:

  • The homeless population jumped by 12 percent from the previous year;
  • There were more than 44,350 homeless individuals, including nearly 26,000 in the City of Los Angeles;
  • Most were concentrated in five downtown census tracts, including Skid Row. Next were Santa Monica and Hollywood, followed by smaller clusters in South Los Angeles and Pomona.
  • The number of makeshift encampments, tents and vehicles where people were living soared by 85 percent from 5,335 to 9,535. Neighborhoods for those living out of their vehicles were centered in South Los Angeles, the Antelope Valley and Westchester. Outside of Skid Row, encampments cropped up all over Los Angeles County, but especially near the 110 Freeway, north and south of downtown, plus in the South Bay part of the 405;
  • The ranks of the chronically homeless those who have been homeless for a year or more or who’ve had at least four homeless episodes in the last three years climbed by 60 percent;
    The number of homeless family members rose by 12 percent, from 6,678 to 7,505;
    But there was hardly any growth in the number of homeless veterans. The number remained flat at about 4,000.