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County ranks second in nation for most homeless people

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County has the second largest population of homeless people of any region in the United States, according to a government report released last week.

Los Angeles County’s total — 55,188 — was behind only New York City’s 76,501, according to the 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

However, 95 percent of people experiencing homelessness in New York City were sheltered, the report found, while only 25 percent of those experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles were sheltered in 2017.

The HUD report findings were similar to the results of the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count released in June by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, which put the county’s homeless total at 57,794 — an increase of 23 percent over the previous count.

The HUD report found that on one night in January, nearly one of every four people experiencing homelessness in the United States was in New York City or Los Angeles.

According to the report, overall homelessness increased nationwide this year for the first time in seven years, by slightly under 1 percent compared to 2016. On a given night across the country, 553,742 people were homeless, with nearly two-thirds housed in shelters or transitional housing programs and one-third living on the streets, according to the report.

Los Angeles’ big increase in homeless had a significant impact on the national numbers.

Between 2016 and 2017, individual homelessness increased by 9 percent (15,540 people) in the nation’s major cities. Los Angeles accounted for 60 percent of that increase.

According to the report, Los Angeles County ranked:

• Second nationally in the percent of unsheltered homeless, at 84.3 percent.

• First in the number of individuals who are homeless, at 47,082.

• First in the number of unaccompanied homeless youth at 5,163.

• First in the number of homeless veterans (4,476) and percentage of unsheltered veterans (76.1 percent).

• And second in the number of people in families who are homeless (8,106).

Federal rules define individuals who are homeless as those who are not part of a homeless family.

California had 134,278 homeless people, and while the Golden State has the nation’s largest population, the rate of 34 homeless residents per 10,000 people was twice the national average, according to the report. Of those, 68 percent were living on the streets, by far the worst percentage.

The report said half the nation’s homeless live in five states: California, New York, Florida, Texas or Washington.