By Tara Kwan
Imagine that you are on the streets on a cold night without any shelter and wondering when your next meal will be. It is a difficult life yet this is the reality for far too many people. Homelessness is an issue that is unfortunately growing bigger and more visible in the San Gabriel Valley.
Daniella Alcedo, a Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) regional coordinator, came to the Monterey Park city council meeting on September 6th to present the results from the 2017 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count.
The 2017 results found that 57,794 people are experiencing homelessness on any given night which is about a 23% increase from the 2016 total of 46,874. In the San Gabriel valley, LAHSA found that 3,552 people are experiencing homelessness on a given night which is about a 36% increase from the 2016 total of 2,612 people.
The cities of Alhambra, Monterey Park, Montebello, and Rosemead all experienced an increase in the number of homeless people from 2016 to 2017. San Gabriel’s number of homeless people remained the same, 9 people in both years. Alhambra experienced approximately a 39.1% increase, from 64 to 89 homeless people.
In contrast, the number of homeless people in Monterey Park, Montebello, and Rosemead increased dramatically. Monterey Park’s numbers rose from 7 to 23 which is about a 228.6% increase whereas Rosemead’s numbers shifted from 24 to 50 which is approximately a 108.3% increase. Montebello’s population of homeless people was the highest recorded change; it experienced a 594.2% increase from 52 people in 2016 to 361 people in 2017.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), homelessness is defined as “individuals and families who live in a place not meant for human habitation (including the streets or in their car), emergency shelter, transitional housing, and hotels paid for by a government or charitable organization.” The HUD mandates that the homeless count is conducted annually within the last 10 days of January. LAHSA works with cities and volunteers for the count every year. Monterey Park’s current mayor, Teresa Real Sebastian, has assisted in the count herself.
Although the situation for the homeless population in Los Angeles county may not seem optimistic, Measure H which instituted a sales tax generating $355 million annually and Proposition HH which is a $1.2 billion bond are expected to alleviate the conditions for the homeless. The money will be used to provide housing, enhance the emergency shelter system, and sustain programs aimed to prevent as well as tackle homelessness.
The 2018 Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count will take place from January 22nd to 25th. More detailed information on the 2017 count can be found on the LAHSA website at https://www.lahsa.org/homeless-count/home.
Editor’s Note: Tara Kwan is a contributor to the Journal