LA's rising rents could force 2,000 into homelessness, study says

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Nearly 2,000 more Angelenos could be pushed into homelessness if rents climb by 5 percent, according to a study released Thursday.

Los Angeles is one of four major metropolitan areas where rent increases are heavily tied to the number of people who are homeless, and would have seen 1,993 people forced into homelessness if rents rose by an average of 5 percent, the Zillow study found.

That’s an increase over the 46,874 people recorded in a 2016 count as living on the street or in shelters throughout Los Angeles. In a subsequent 2017 count conducted in January by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, 57,000 people were found to be homeless, with more than 8,000 becoming homeless for the first time in the last year.

RELATED STORY: Homelessness surges by 23 percent in LA County

In New York, the same 5 percent rise in rent would have added nearly 3,000 more people to the homeless population there, while in Washington, D.C. and Seattle the number of those who are homeless would have grown by more than 200 people, the Zillow analysis also found.

Zillow researchers noted that in Los Angeles and the three other cities, rents rose by at least four percent from 2011 to 2016.

Meanwhile, wages across the country have not caught up with rent increases, and that can be seen in Los Angeles, where median rent payments make up 49 percent of a typical household income, Zillow researchers said.

“We’ve seen so much pressure in rental housing markets that it’s created a rental affordability crisis that has spilled over into a homelessness crisis at lower income levels,” Zillow Senior Economist Skylar Olsen said.

“This report puts a number on the link between rising rents and homelessness, highlighting the very real human impact that rent increases are having across the country,” Olsen said.

Olsen noted many times, “the rental demand in these markets isn’t being met with a sufficient supply,” but she added there is “no one-size fits-all solution for everyone.”

Zillow researchers also contend that only a portion of those who are homeless are actually counted, and came up with their own estimates on the sizes of the homeless population in each of the cities they looked at. In Los Angeles, the number of people who were recorded as homeless in a 2016 count was 46,874. But by using their own statistical model, Zillow researchers determined the homeless population more likely numbered 59,508 people last year.

Researchers also said they found a correlation between growing rent and homelessness in several other cities, such as Philadelphia, Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit and Pittsburgh. But there were some exceptions.

Houston and Tampa saw the number of people who were homeless fall, which could indicate strategies in those cities to curb homelessness in those cities may be working, researchers said.



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