The Santa Monica City Council received a report Tuesday indicating that the city’s homeless population rose sharply last year, growing by 26 percent.
The data comes from a homelessness count conducted each year across the Los Angeles metro area. According to the report, 921 homeless residents now reside in Santa Monica—up from 728 counted a year ago.
That number likely represents only a small fraction of the number of homeless residents across the LA area (last year volunteers counted nearly 47,000 individuals across the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s continuum of care). Still, a city of Santa Monica press release suggests the increase may be tied to a regionwide crisis.
Among other things, the report indicates that many of the city’s homeless residents are new to the area. Nearly 30 percent of those surveyed reported having been in Santa Monica less than a month, while 46 percent came to Santa Monica from other parts of LA and 32 percent are originally from out of state.
Those numbers likely reflect the fact that the residences of the homeless are, by definition, unstable—not necessarily the common myth that homeless residents of other states move out to California for the warmer weather.
Homelessness was up across the board in the city, with a 39 percent increase in the number of people living on the street, a 26 percent increase in people living in cars and encampments, and a nine percent bump in the shelter population.
The release of data for all of LA County should shed more light on trends that could be directing more homeless residents to Santa Monica. LAHSA will make those numbers available in June.