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Report: Homelessness Up 12 Percent In LA County

LOS ANGELES ( — The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has found the number of homeless people across L.A. County has jumped 12 percent since 2013.

There are more than 44,000 homeless people in the area, according to the agency's biennial Homeless Count released Monday.

"The demand for homeless assistance has increased in Los Angeles and several recent studies have confirmed our region's housing and affordability crisis," said Peter Lynn, executive director of the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. "We are working diligently to target resources and interventions to create a sustainable, systemic infrastructure to house our homeless neighbors."

"This is a serious problem. It is a very, very challenging problem. But it's not insolvable," Lynn told CBS2/KCAL9's Erica Nochlin.

The homeless count, conducted by more than 5,500 volunteers who fanned out across the county, found that many without homes are not in shelters.

The number of homeless veterans remained relatively the same, going from 4,007 in 2013 to 4,016 this year.

"No growth in veteran homelessness demonstrates the positive impact of increased federal and local resources to house homeless veterans, but shows a serious challenge of new veterans becoming homeless," Lynn said. "Los Angeles has housed 7,500 veterans since 2013, but we will need to increase that rate to end veteran homelessness."

The LAHSA was created in 1993 to address the problems of homelessness in LA County.

Members coordinate and manage over $70 million annually in federal, state, county and city funds for programs providing shelter, housing and services to homeless persons.

Two fatal police shootings of homeless men in L.A. has brought public attention to the issue. One man was killed May 5 in the Venice area and lost his life March 1 on downtown's Skid Row.

"This is a combination of a policing issue and a homelessness issue," Mayor Eric Garcetti said. "We've seen two incidents in which homeless individuals with a history of mental health challenges have lost their lives on our streets, and I think that we need to own that."

A recent report found that the city spends as much as $100 million on homeless issues, but without a system for coordinating the programs.

"This year in my budget we have put 10 outreach teams to deal with mental health and other things in a county that only has seven total," Garcetti said. "So we're going to go to 17 just based on the city's contribution to the Homeless Services Authority to be able to go out there and really interact with those individuals and try and get them off the streets and into continuing care.

"Despite complete slashes from the federal government and the elimination of affordable housing funds from the state, we put more money into our own affordable housing trust fund to build housing to get homeless people off the streets - $10 million that we put in on top of the almost $20 million from last year."

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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