Commencing in 2015, headlines of the Los Angeles Times proclaimed that LA tops the nation when it comes to the population of chronically homeless men, women, and children. According to data that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development initially released that year, Los Angeles city and county not only has the most chronically homeless people than any place else in the United States, but two-thirds of these people are also on the street. About one-third of homeless people in LA utilize shelters or other transitional or emergency housing alternatives.
When these reports about Los Angeles started coming out in 2015, this proved to be a major disappointment to HUD. The agency previously had opined that it would eliminate chronic homelessness in the United States by that juncture in time. In 2015, HUD extended its deadline to eliminate chronic homelessness to 2017. The agency missed that goal as well.
Since these reports began coming out, another trend has taken hold in LA – the explosion of homeless encampments. According to the leader of the Union Rescue Mission, the largest shelter in Los Angeles, homeless encampments are no longer located in economically depressed areas of the city and county only. Homeless encampments are springing up everywhere, including in the middle class as well as more affluent neighborhoods throughout greater LA.
Some individuals involved in the debate what should be done to address chronic homelessness in Los Angeles maintain that a state of emergency should be declared. People taking this position include the chief executive officer of the Union Rescue Mission. He goes so far to state that the response to chronic homelessness should pattern what is done in the aftermath of a major hurricane. The current Mayor of LA is not on board with declaring a state of emergency in regard to chronic homelessness in the city.