Homelessness in Los Angeles has been rapidly increasing in recent years. In a 2017 Los Angeles County And Continuum Of Care report, it was reported that over 55,000 people experience homelessness nightly; this is a 26% increase when compared to 2016’s total of 43,855. More than a quarter of the entire United States’ homeless population resides in California but compared to other cities Los Angeles has one of the lowest numbers of homeless shelters.
Crowded shelters result in the homeless finding alternative housing options. Three out of four homeless people live in makeshift homes like lean-tos, tents or cars. In Downtown L.A. you can find Skid Row, one of the nation’s biggest collection of homeless. Here you can find rows of tents that house people who can fit all of their belongings in a bag on their back.
The increase of homelessness is due to a variety of reasons including unemployment, low wages, or poverty. However, one of the biggest reasons is the lack of affordable housing. For those making minimum wage or most middle-class families, living in L.A. is out of the budget. On average, renters are paying 47% of their income on rent, which does not leave much money for groceries, bills, and other necessities.
Less than 2% of Los Angeles’ rent ranges from 700 to 1,000 dollars. The average rent in Los Angeles is $2,237 with an average apartment size of 786 square feet. For someone who is earning minimum wage, at $10.50 an hour, and working full time, they would not be able to afford the average rent cost.
Rent in Los Angeles does not appear to be decreasing anytime soon. In a recent report conducted by the University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate and Beacon Economics, average rents in L.A. are expected to increase by $136 in the next few years.
People move to Los Angeles for new opportunities and to live out their dreams. Instead of fulfilling those dreams, they are handed hefty price tags that they can either pay or move to the streets. To help aid the homelessness in this housing epidemic, change is required. More shelters need to be built and more affordable housing needs to become available.