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2018 Homeless Count shows first decrease in four years

May 31, 2018 | January 16, 2019 | 14,567 total views
  • Despite economic forces pushing more people into first-time homelessness, there was a 4 percent overall decrease in the number of people experiencing homelessness in LA County
  • Results show record numbers placed into housing, double-digit drops in chronic and veteran homelessness—signs that city/county strategies are working

Los Angeles, CA (May 31, 2018)—The 2018 Homeless Count showed 52,765 people in Los Angeles County experiencing homelessness. That figure represents a four percent drop from last year’s count of 55,048 and the first time in four years that homelessness did not rise, according to the results of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) 2018 Homeless Count, which were released today. 

Even as the city/county plan demonstrates positive results, with more people moving back into homes more quickly, the Count also shows a rise in the number of people entering homelessness for the first time, suggesting that root causes of homelessness, such as the affordable housing crisis, have continued to worsen.

Voters put their trust in us to deliver housing and services for people living on our streets, and today we see that our efforts are yielding results
Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles City Mayor

“For the first time in four years we saw the number of people homeless in LA County decrease,” said Peter Lynn, executive director of LAHSA. “It’s encouraging, and indicates new resources voters approved are already having an impact. We housed more than 16,500 people, the most our region has ever achieved. As the funds and programs from Measures H and Proposition HHH begin to reach more people and create more housing, we will continue building on this momentum.”

“Voters put their trust in us to deliver housing and services for people living on our streets, and today we see that our efforts are yielding results,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “There are thousands of people counting on us to keep going, so we are pressing relentlessly forward until every Angeleno has a safe place to sleep at night.”

"A four percent reduction in the Homeless Count means we are on the right track, but this is no time to rest," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. "We should use this momentum to accelerate our efforts to address what I consider to be the civic and moral crisis of our time, to scale up our compassion and innovation. These numbers are a call to action to every resident of Los Angeles County to join in the fight to end homelessness."

The backdrop for this hopeful turn includes a record number of housing placements. In 2017, 16,519 people moved into homes in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care (LA CoC, or Los Angeles County excluding Glendale, Pasadena, and Long Beach), up from 14,214 in 2016 and 10,917 in 2015.

The most striking discoveries from the 2018 Homeless Count were double-digit drops among two high-priority populations: in chronic homelessness and veteran homelessness. People who are chronically homeless—who have a disabling condition and have experienced homelessness for at least a year—decreased from 17,204 people in 2017 to 14,075, a drop of 18%. The number of homeless veterans fell from 4,792 to 3,886, a drop of 19%.

The Homeless Count also tells a promising story about homeless youth. The overall number of youth did not show a significant change, shifting from 3,233 to 3,306 (a figure within the margin of error). However, there was a significant change in the number of sheltered youth, from 45% sheltered in 2017 to 53% sheltered in 2018.

For the first time in four years we saw the number of people homeless in LA County decrease
Peter Lynn, LAHSA Executive Director

“We are still in the early stages of implementing our homeless initiatives, but these numbers show that our strategies are the right ones and we are beginning to make progress,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, board vice chair.  "These results should give us the confidence to double down on our efforts. There are still 53,000 people on the streets and they should know that help is on the way.”

These changes were especially notable given challenging conditions. According to the California Housing Partnership Corporation, Los Angeles has a shortage of 565,255 new affordable units for low income renters— a number 16,448 higher than last year. Over the past two decades, Los Angeles County rents have risen at nearly three times the rate of those same renters’ incomes. California has the highest poverty rate of any state at 20.4%, and Los Angeles County has the highest poverty rate within it at 24.9%.

The Homeless Count also gave insight into the steep challenges that face Los Angeles County in the fight against homelessness. One figure that highlights the direct link between the county’s housing crisis and its homelessness numbers was the high percentage of people newly experiencing homelessness. More than a quarter of those included in LAHSA’s count of unsheltered people, 9,205 people (LA CoC), had fallen into homelessness for the first time in 2017, an increase of 1,161 over the previous year.

"Today's results demonstrate that change is possible if we stay on this road and we aggressively push forward toward solutions together,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson.

Neighborhood-level data on homelessness will be released later this summer. However, the initial results provide a snapshot of homelessness in Los Angeles County as it was on Jan. 23-25, 2018, the dates of this year’s Homeless Count.

Some notable observations:

  • Homelessness continues to be a local issue, not a result of new arrivals. 65% of people surveyed in the Homeless Count had been in Los Angeles County for more than 20 years, and only 10% had been here for one year or less. 75% lived in Los Angeles before becoming homeless.
  • Fewer Black/African-American people experienced homelessness than last year, though they continue to be overrepresented. The population of Black/African-Americans decreased from 40% to 36% of the total population, but they continue to be overrepresented compared to 9% in general county population figures. This issue will be addressed by the recently appointed Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness.
  • The homeless population is aging. People aged 62 and older saw a 22% increase, while all other age groups saw a slight decrease.

Household Types (LA County)

Adults 84%
Family members 16%
Youth 6%
(defined as age 18-24 living without a parent or guardian)

Gender (LA County)

Male 67%
Female 31%
Transgender 2%
Gender Non-Conforming 0.3%

Race and Ethnicity

Hispanic or Latino 35%
White 25%
Black/African-American 36%
Asian 1%
American Indian/Alaskan Native 1%
Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 1%
Multi-Racial/Other 1%

Age (LA CoC)

  • 22% increase in seniors 62 and older. All other age groups saw a slight decrease.

Domestic Violence (LA CoC)

  • 3,081 (6%) people report becoming homeless because they are fleeing domestic/intimate partner violence.

Health Conditions (LA County)

  • 15% report a substance use disorder.
  • 26% report a serious mental illness.


The 2018 LAHSA Homeless Count was carried out from January 23-25, 2018. Over 8,500 volunteers signed up to take this point-in-time census of the tens of thousands of youth and families, veterans of the armed forces, and men and women who are our neighbors. The information gleaned from the Homeless Count is used by policymakers, advocates and service providers to better understand and implement solutions to address homelessness.


View Summary Results


The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority is a joint powers authority of the City and County of Los Angeles, created in 1993 to address the problems of homelessness in Los Angeles County. LAHSA is the lead agency in the HUD-funded Los Angeles Continuum of Care, and coordinates and manages more than $243 million annually in federal, state, county and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing and services to homeless persons. For more information visit www.lahsa.org.


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