The number of homeless people has risen in LA County. (file photo)
A “historic” housing crisis in Los Angeles County has led to a spike in the number of homeless people in America’s largest county by population.
LA County homelessness jumped by nearly six percent over the past year to 46,874, authorities said on Wednesday.
The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) said in a report that the rise came about despite a reduction in the number of homeless veterans and homeless families.
“Homelessness responds to resources,” said LAHSA executive director Peter Lynn. “When we have systematically applied city, county and federal resources, we see results.”
The number of homeless people in the city of Los Angeles jumped by 11 percent while other areas in the county saw larger increases.
The vast majority of the county’s homeless – 34,527 – are without shelter, LAHSA said, meaning that they are living in tents, shantytowns or vehicles.
“Despite our progress, Los Angeles is facing a historic housing shortage, a staggering mental health crisis and veterans are becoming homeless every day,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters.
A US study found last year that more than one in four Americans have to use at least half their family income on housing and utilities.
According to the non-profit Enterprise Community Partners, the number of such households has jumped 26% to 11.25 million since 2007.
Rental prices have surged at nearly twice the pace of average hourly wages since the end of 2010, according to another study.
The crisis reflects one of the shortcomings of the recovery from the Great Recession where income has failed to match rent increases, the Associated Press reported.