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A person experiencing homelessness rests on the Esplanade in Redondo Beach on Dec. 22, 2019. (Photo by Lisa Jacobs)
 

Story: Homelessness likely to present one of the toughest challenges for years to come.

What will happen: Significant funding, much of it thanks to taxpayers who agreed to foot the bill, flowed into fighting homelessness in the past decade, but the numbers of people living on Los Angeles County’s sidewalks still went up.

The patchwork of tents, sleeping bags, tarps and overloaded shopping carts have become ubiquitous throughout the county, from Venice Beach to San Pedro.

Suggested causes center on the high cost and shortage of affordable housing, drug and alcohol addiction, state laws that allow early release or no jail time at all for some criminals and vagrants, family breakdown, and an inadequate mental health system that lets far too many slip through the cracks.

Recent years saw the county pump billions of dollars into solving the homeless and housing crisis.

But the results of January’s homeless count estimated the number of folks living on the streets had increased 12% from the previous year. In Long Beach, the numbers remained essentially flat.

It became clear homelessness will take years to solve.

San Pedro and Wilmington will likely each see a temporary shelter open sometime next year.

And Long Beach has plans for a year-round shelter in the northern end of the city.

But rents keep rising, while wages haven’t kept up with inflation, and the path to solving the housing crisis is challenging.

Constructing new housing is both costly and cumbersome considering the bureaucratic hoops and resistance within communities where building homeless shelters and even permanent housing is viewed with skepticism.

Yet, California needs between 1.8 million and 3.5 million new homes by 2025, state and private reports say.

While some units have gone up, most jurisdictions in Southern California are not on pace to meet their goals.

The county’s 2020 homeless point-in-time count, meanwhile, is right around the corner. Results won’t be released until several months after the one-night census.

Homeless advocates caution that such high numbers of homelessness will take years to reverse.

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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