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Homeless population declines in L.A. County, U.S. says

December 19, 2012 |  4:02 pm

Photo: A homeless man on Skid Row on Dec. 11. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

A report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shows a decrease in the overall homeless population in Los Angeles County, and a more marked decrease in the number of homeless veterans.

The recently released report, which is based on point-in-time estimates from counts conducted on a single night in January 2012, found that Los Angeles' total homeless population had dropped by 6.8% from the previous year, while the number of homeless nationwide had held steady.

The number of estimated homeless veterans in Los Angeles had decreased by 22%, from 8,131 to 6,371, the largest drop in any major city surveyed. The change represented a continuation of a downward trend over the last several years.

Bill Daniels, chief of mental health at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, credited a variety of programs -- and more aggressive outreach to chronically homeless veterans -- with helping to reduce the number of veterans living on the streets in Los Angeles.

"We've worked closely with the community and community partners, and no one agency can do it alone," he said.

Among other programs, the VA provides case management for veterans in so-called Section 8 housing and funds community agencies providing transitional housing to veterans.

In 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs, in collaboration with local government officials and nonprofits, launched a project intended to get the 60 most vulnerable homeless veterans off the streets of Los Angeles County and give them permanent housing in hopes that they would then access other services like mental health counseling and substance abuse treatment. The project, which is now housing 73 veterans, was modeled on the county's Project 50 on skid row.


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Photo: A homeless man on skid row. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images