In its 2019 Homeless Count report released Tuesday, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) reported that homelessness increased by 12% in Los Angeles County and 16% in Los Angeles City. On any given night, 58,936 individuals and families are experiencing homelessness.
These were some alarming and notable stand-outs in the report:
- There are currently 17,482 women experiencing homelessness, a 14% increase over the past year.
- More than half of unhoused adults are experiencing homelessness for the first time. A quarter of these people lost their housing in 2018.
- 5% of people experiencing homelessness became homeless as a result of domestic/intimate partner violence. Of those, more than half — 55% — are women. This is a 28% increase from last year.
- Seniors experiencing homelessness increased by 7%
These numbers paint a bleak picture, but it is crucial to note that without the investments we have made in proven, long-term solutions to this crisis, this picture would be far worse. For example:
- 21,631 people experiencing homelessness were housed in 2018. Housing placements have increased 23% from last year and more than double since 2014.
- 6,424 units of supportive housing are approved for funding and are in the development pipeline across LA County.
- 5,643 people were provided assistance to prevent homelessness, triple the number as before Measure H.
If We’re Making Progress, Why is There an Increase?
Despite these accomplishments, homelessness has increased because of the continued rise in lack of affordable housing and challenging economic factors in Los Angeles. Due to factors such as wage stagnation and rapidly rising rents, one-third of LA households are spending more than 50% of their household income on rent.
Currently, 516,946 additional affordable housing units are needed to support the needs of LA’s low income residents.
What DWC Is Doing
The Downtown Women’s Center has felt this increase across all our programs well before these numbers were released. In response to the growing number of women coming through our doors, we have expanded all our services, from serving more meals in our Day Center to increasing health care services for older women to expanding our Community Based Housing (CBH) program to house more women across LA County.
DWC moved upstream by expanding preventative programs, such as our Domestic Violence Rapid Re-housing program, workforce development program, and increasing our advocacy efforts. The Domestic Violence Rapid Re-housing program works to immediately house women fleeing violent partners right away before they start experiencing homelessness. We are expanding our workforce development program by linking more women to employers and employment training and hiring through our Social Enterprise MADE by DWC. The women with lived experiences advocate for policy change and effective funding allocation.
All three of these programs prevent more women from becoming chronically homelessness.
“These numbers show that homelessness in Los Angeles continues to be a crisis, and people are suffering every day. However, these disheartening realities will not deter the empowering, effective work being done at the Downtown Women’s Center, where we know ending homelessness is possible because we make it happen every day,” Lisa Watson, DWC’s CEO, said in response to the count results. “We will continue to house as many women as possible throughout LA County, expand the services that keep women housed, and share our successful program models with community partners. As always, we will continue to open our doors to provide a safe, vibrant community for women experiencing homelessness.”
Homelessness has increased across all parts of LA County, and affordable housing is critically needed in all neighborhoods, not just in Skid Row. Say Yes In My Backyard! Contact your City Councilmember and neighborhood representatives to advocate for more affordable housing and permanent supportive housing in your community, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.
As we continue to grow to meet the needs of more women experiencing homelessness we need your support! None of the work we do is possible without your financial support. Set up a recurring donation or donate a one-time gift here.
Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do at DWC. Complete an application here to get involved with our community and supporting women on their path to personal stability.