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Los Angeles: City of the stars ... and the homeless

IANS  |  Los Angeles 

is the world's entertainment capital, as is evident at world-famous, red-carpet ceremonies like the Oscars, and But it also has another, unglamorous aspect that rarely receives attention in the media -- a skyrocketing homeless population.

The number of people living in the streets or in shelters in County has risen by 75 per cent over the past six years, from 32,000 to nearly 58,000, news agency reported.

surged by 23 per cent in 2017 alone, according to official figures from the US Department of and Urban Development, which says that Skid Row -- an area just to the east of the city's financial district -- is the epicentre of a problem that also has extended to popular tourist areas like Hollywood.

HUD said in its 2017 that on a single night last year, 553,742 people were experiencing in the US.

had the largest homeless population (76,501), although 95 per cent of those individuals were sheltered.

By contrast, 74.7 per cent of the 55,188 homeless persons in City & County were not being sheltered, the second-worst rate after Fresno/Madera County, (75.8 per cent)

Harmony, a woman in her 20s who appears twice as old, is among those experiencing this plight. For several months, she has been forced to spend her nights at just a few meters from the

Harmony told she had been laid off from her job and could no longer afford the skyrocketing rent costs in

She said she did not have a problem with drugs or alcohol and was confident she would be given a new employment opportunity, adding that she had applied for work at nearly 30 different places.

Rick Lomas, 67, also has been spending his days at the same gas station, where he provides directions to motorists and pedestrians.

He lost his job in Van Nuys, California, two years ago for consuming drugs, but he said with a smile on his face that he had found a place to spend the night where he would not be beaten up.

Los Angeles says the city government plans to reduce the homeless population by half within five years and reach a "functional zero"-level by 2028 in part by using $1.2 billion in homeless funds that were approved by voters in 2016.

That money is to be used to build 10,000 units over the next decade.

Garcetti also said this week that he backed a legislative proposal to earmark around $1.5 billion of California's projected $6.1 billion budget surplus for programmes to address in cities across the state.

But two members of Los Angeles' homeless population said the city was not acting quickly enough.

and her son Moses, who have been spending their nights huddled in a sleeping bag on Poinsettia Place, outside the building where Oprah Winfrey's OWN network operates, said 2028 was very far off and they needed concrete actions now.

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, April 16 2018. 07:24 IST
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