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Despite housing efforts, LA homelessness is getting worse




A homeless man walks down the street in the downtown Skid Row area of Los Angeles, California.
A homeless man walks down the street in the downtown Skid Row area of Los Angeles, California.
David McNew/Getty Images

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The struggle to help and house LA County's homeless population was one of the biggest stories we covered at KPCC in 2017, including the new money voters decided to direct toward homeless projects. 

KPCC's social safety net correspondent, Rina Palta, spent much of the year talking with homeless youth, veterans, and displaced families. Her work included "Broke," a documentary on homelessness she developed with KPCC's Priska Neely. 

Palta said homeless numbers increased in 2017, despite the county housing a record number of people the prior year.

"I think more than anything, homelessness is getting worse here. We saw a 23 percent rise in the population from last year to almost 60,000 people in L.A. County."

Palta also said young people between the ages of 18 to 25 were becoming more susceptible to homelessness. Exiting the foster care system and release from hospitals and prison without anywhere to go was a big factor in the group's vulnerability.

Looking ahead, Angelenos will see their money hard at work for measures to fund homeless services. Palta said that bond and sales tax measures were passed in late 2016 and 2017, and their funding is kicking in.

"Local leaders have all this money to work with and they're really trying to ramp up programs and housing to tackle homelessness," she said. "Will it work or not? That's really the question of 2018."