Amid Rising Rents, L.A. is Flirting With a Homelessness Disaster

Los Angeles County could soon see a wave of newly homeless individuals if rents continue to increase as expected. A new study conducted by real estate firm Zillow found that a 5% rent hike in Los Angeles County would push another 2,000 more residents onto the streets.

Experts have long known that rent increases contribute to homelessness, but Zillow’s study paints an even more dire picture for the Southland. It also found that the number of homeless individuals in L.A. was slightly higher than the official reported figures for last year.

“I thought it was an excellent study,” said Dennis Culhane, a professor and homelessness researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. “Few people have access to rental market data like Zillow.”

The company’s senior economist, Skylar Olsen, said L.A. must address its housing shortage once and for all or its indigence problem will continue to grow.

“It’s not personal vulnerabilities of drug use or illness driving homelessness,” said Olsen. “It’s a lack of access to housing. If there were lots of available housing, all of these vulnerabilities would be hidden.”


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