Valley Ranks 4th in County for Homeless

Pasadena Star-News

By Jason Kosareff

The San Gabriel Valley ranks fourth in the county in homelessness, according to a study released Thursday.

The Valley has 9,254 homeless people, according to the “2005 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.” Pasadena conducted its own homeless count in 2005, coming up with an estimate of 1,200 according to the author of that census.

Countywide, the study estimates about 91,000 people are homeless on any given night and 221,363 were homeless at some point during the year. It’s the equivalent of one out of every 110 county residents living on the streets.

The study released during a news conference in South Los Angeles breaks down for the first time the demographics of the county’s homeless population. Those details are available on the Internet at www.lahsa.org.

The study was directed by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority with the help of dozens of homeless service providers turning in a physical head count of the homeless over two nights in January 2005.

The data released Thursday show a breakdown of where in the county the homeless are living and gives policy makers a better idea of who is homeless in the county.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said it shows Los Angeles County is the homeless capital of America.

“Before today, everybody thought it was just political hyperbole,” Villaraigosa said.

The homeless count is a strong tool for policy makers to use to determine a solution to the county’s homeless problem.

Whittier City Councilman Owen Newcomer, a member of LAHSA’s board of directors, said the joint-powers agency between Los Angeles city and county can use the study to help policy makers craft a plan to end homelessness.

President Bush mandated in 2004 that major American cities end homelessness in 10 years.

“Change is coming,” Newcomer said. “Commitments are coming.”

A flood of money for homeless programs is poised to bolster services in the region. The county Board of Supervisors approved last month $24 million for homeless programs, and Villaraigosa said Los Angeles is prepared to spend $50 million.

The federal government is expected to spend $60 million on the county’s homeless and Assemblyman Mark Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, said millions in state funding is in the works.

Joe Colletti, head of the Institute for Urban Research and Development, said taking census of the homeless shows the problem is shared by everyone in the county.

“The idea is, do we share a common solution?” he said.

IURD, which runs a homeless program in El Monte, has created somewhat of a cottage industry in counting homeless people. Colletti’s group conducted the 2005 studies for Pasadena, Long Beach and Riverside County. Bush’s mandate requires homeless counts every two years for cities and agencies such as LAHSA in order to qualify for federal dollars, he said.

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