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71 fewer homeless people in 2024 after $60M spent in Long Beach 

The city of Long Beach released its annual homeless count numbers and saw its first drop in 7 years after a year under a homeless emergency and spending more than $60 million of federal, state, and local taxpayer money.

Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson said a 2.1% drop in the homeless count means the city is “trending in the right direction because we took action.”

It’s the city’s first drop in the homeless count since 2017 and a 62% spike in homeless following the pandemic in 2022.

In total, 3376 unhoused people were counted in January 2024 compared to 3447 in 2023, just 71 fewer homeless people.

“I can tell you it’s not working,” said Christine Berry, a homeless advocate who said the city’s efforts have been a failure. “We’ve spent millions and millions of dollars and most people are not better off”

Theron Wells, who has been homeless for a decade in Long Beach, said housing has been elusive to him and thousands of others still on the streets.

“The money is not being spent the right way,” said Wells.

Richardson says the city did successfully turn the tide from a record 62% homeless spike during the pandemic and cut youth homelessness, 18 to 34, almost in half by 47%. Minors under 18 years old decreased by 37%.

Homelessness increased among 35- to 44-year-olds by 11% and among 45- to 54-year-olds by 6.2%.

“There is nothing about today that would infer that this is a failure,” said Richardson. 

Berry says the percentage decreases are “negligible” with just 71 fewer homeless counted. She said the proof is in the number of homeless actually housed and those numbers are low. 

During the homeless emergency year, the city moved just 227 people out of homelessness to self-sufficiency, according to city data. Currently, there are 733 people in permanent housing programs.

Berry said the city’s “housing first” strategy has become a revolving door for too many addicted and mentally unstable people who are given temporary housing without demanding treatment first.

“If you enforce… the laws in the city… and they give people a choice of going to rehab or go to jail. I can tell you from experience they will go to rehab,” said Berry. 

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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