Three months after volunteers swept the City of Malibu taking count of homeless who have found temporary rest in town, numbers have been released that show a stark sketch of the current housing crisis in L.A. County.
Rates of homelessness are up in the Malibu area and throughout greater Los Angeles, according to the official census compiled by the U.S. Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), based on numbers gathered this past January.
According to data released by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) on Monday, the total number of homeless individuals counted in the L.A. Area (including all of Los Angeles County except Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach) was 41,174 in January, up from 35,524 two years previously in 2013.
In the Malibu area specifically, numbers are up by 3.8%, increasing from 8,371 counted in 2013 to 8,688 counted in 2015.
Supervisorial District 3, which includes Malibu, Topanga and parts of the San Fernando Valley, makes up 21% of the homeless population in the L.A. area.
Though the rates of homeless veterans have remained steady over the past two years, according to data collected by a team of volunteers, homeless individuals with mental illnesses have increased by over 2,000 across the region, to a total of 12,253 in January.
The homeless who have reported domestic violence against them have also skyrocketed in number to 8,801 over 3,159 in 2013. That’s an increase of 64%.
“The demand for homeless assistance has increased in Los Angeles and several recent studies have confirmed our region’s housing and affordability crisis,” Peter Lynn, LAHSA Executive Director, said in a statement.
According to other executives with LAHSA, many people have worked to keep numbers from increasing even more over the last two years.
“We believe the numbers would be higher were it not for the hard work of our many partners that help homeless persons gain access to safe, stable housing,” said Kerry Morrison, LAHSA Commission Chair, in a statement. “As new collaborations form and systems of coordination continue to improve, we are better situated than ever before to address this critical issue and improve the quality of life for the men, women and children in need of our support.”
In the City of Malibu, L.A. County Sheriffs have noted an increase in homeless people over the last two years, according to Lt. Royal at the Malibu/Lost Hills Station.
When asked whether he believed services for the homeless in Malibu are adequate, Royal declined to answer, stating that it’s a “complex issue.”
“I’m not saying that there are inadequate services or adequate services,” Royal said. “There are some services, but there could always be more.”
Some programs Royal noted that exist to serve the homeless include local churches, such as the Malibu United Methodist Church and the Malibu Presbyterian Church, which offer weekly meals for the homeless, as well as non-religious programs such as PATH, People Assisting the Homeless.
Another group supporting homeless in the community is the Malibu Community Labor Exchange, which is partially supported by the City of Malibu.
“We do help fund the Labor Exchange, and the goal of the Labor Exchange is to be able to have a location where residents can potentially hire individuals to help with various projects,” said City Manager Jim Thorsen. “It helps the community and the homeless — not everybody there is homeless, but at the same time, they’re looking for potential work.”
Thorsen said that with the increase of homeless population in the City, one possible thing Malibu officials can do is turn to government on the state and county level.
“One of the things that we do is we work with our lobbyist up in Sacramento, and if there’s needs like this that we can assist in trying to urge our county and state legislature to help out with the homeless, we can do that,” Thorsen said.
In the meantime, Royal stated that crimes involving the homeless population have increased alongside the growing number of homeless people coming to Malibu.
“We respond to a significant amount of calls involving the homeless for things such as public drunkenness, trespassing, overnight camping, et cetera, and we do believe there’s been an increase that’s in line with the increase of the homeless population for those calls,” Royal said. “Many of the homeless in Malibu do not engage in criminal behavior resulting in calls or anything like that, but there is a significant sub-group of those who do come to our attention to these kinds of calls.”
Editor's note: In the fourth paragraph, Supervisorial District 3 is referred to as "the Malibu area."