California’s homelessness problem is still here, even after city officials funneled millions in federal money to its epicenter, Downtown Los Angeles. But as a great number of people continue to live in the streets, officials struggle with yet another issue: increased crime rates.
A local NBC affiliate reports that Los Angeles police are scrambling to keep up with the number of crimes involving homeless suspects. And in January, this number increased once again, reaching the 920 incident mark during the first month of the year. According to LA officials, that’s a 29 percent increase from January 2018.
The number of crimes naming the homeless as victims also increased by 22 percent.
The noticeable increase, LAPD Commander Dominic Choi told reporters, is not as much about more crime being committed as it is about more crimes being reported.
“There’s an awareness and [people] are reporting more, our coding is better so we’re capturing a lot more, and, quite frankly, there are more victims out there,” he said. Still, the fact officials are only now managing to properly categorize these crimes doesn’t change the fact the city’s homelessness problem is making the entire region less safe, for both residents and the homeless.
For instance, homeless suspects were connected to 101 of the 731 cases of aggravated assaults reported in January. And out of all the aggravated assault cases happening in downtown Los Angeles, officials add, nearly half were reportedly committed by homeless suspects.
In one case, a 31-year-old suffered a collapsed lung and other critical injuries in a knife attack committed by a 45-year-old man described as an “unemployed transient.”
A 67-year-old man was also severely injured and placed in a medically-induced coma after a man with no permanent residence beat him and smashed him with a table. And in yet another horrific case, a man was pushed off a sidewalk and into the path of an oncoming truck and suffered major injuries. His attacker, a man described as a transient, was later arrested.
Despite this reality, the city maintains that the number of people living in the streets has fallen in 2018. But, the three percent drop hasn’t seemed to make crime involving the homeless less likely. And with the state’s suffocating housing policies still in place, it’s clear we’re not even close to seeing a real solution to this problem.
Government Is Why California Has A Homeless Crisis
Being the state with the worst poverty rate in the country, California also trails behind when it comes to housing. But with more than four in every 10 households spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent, it’s clear that things aren’t getting easier.
But why is it so hard to find affordable living structures in the Golden State? Well, when there’s a shortage of units, there’s a huge spike in costs. And as counties and other local government bodies continue to impose restrictive land-use regulations, builders cannot build.
With a lower supply of housing available, the growing demand sees no alternative. In the end, this cycle forces people to take on desperate measures.
With other restrictive policies in place such as high minimum wage laws and environmental regulations, businesses also suffer either because it’s hard to fill up positions or because it’s nearly impossible to obtain permits to carry out projects.
The housing industry suffers the most, as it requires resources that impact the environment.
If city and state officials truly cared about the crisis, they would push for deregulatory policies, not more government intervention in the economy. Unfortunately, that might not be in the cards for the Golden State any time soon.