As you know, official 2018 LAHSA counts were released yesterday. After some time of reflection and prayer, I have come to the consensus that while the count suggests progress, & I applaud all of our Partners’ & teammates’ efforts, the epidemic of homelessness in Los Angeles remains:
• Children (under 18) on Skid Row increased 109% in the past year. The vast majority of children reside at Union Rescue Mission URM.org
• Women on Skid Row increased 35% in the past year. 350 single women stay at Union Rescue Mission
• Seniors (62+) experiencing homelessness increased 26% in Los Angeles.
• Homelessness remains visible on our streets: 3 out of 4 people experiencing homelessness are unsheltered.
• The percentage (75%) of unsheltered people remains unchanged and shelter beds actually decreased in both LA City & LA County
• 22% increase in homelessness among people aged 62 and older in the past year.
• 1 in every 3 people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles is a woman.
URM has felt this increase as we have experienced:
• An all-time high of 307 total family members-moms (87) dads (13) & kids (207) are being served/housed currently at Union Rescue Mission downtown (Skid Row)
• With an additional 200 moms and children & 25 Senior Ladies housed at Hope Gardens Family Center in Sylmar
If there has indeed been a reduction of people experiencing homelessness, URM has certainly played an important role:
• 2,900 meals served daily
• 1,300 people sheltered each night
• 900 guests placed in housing annually
• 150 job-seekers employed yearly
We are the only mission on Skid Row that will NEVER turn away a woman or family with children who comes to our doors. And with the triple-digit increases on Skid Row, we are so grateful for our donors, volunteers, and staff who help ensure we are able to continue this service to so many precious souls on the streets. Thanks again, to our partners who have ensured the number of those experiencing homelessness has not skyrocketed to double digits, which is what we expected based on our experience and view of the streets as we travel through Los Angeles.
All this to say, while a glimmer of hope is good, before we pat ourselves on the back & declare a measure of success on any count (especially in trying to count people who don’t necessarily want to be found or counted), the margin of error is likely higher than 3-5 percent. There is still so much more to be done. We must remember that there are still 53,000 precious souls on the street.
Union Rescue Mission will continue to embrace people experiencing homelessness with the compassion of Christ & be a strategic partner with the city & county & business community and other service providers in addressing homelessness.