L.A. Homeless Deaths Spiked 56 Percent in 2020—Drugs Are to Blame, Not COVID – Opinion

L.A. County’s Department of Health released a report Friday showing that deaths among the homeless shot up 56 percent during the pandemic’s first year, tallying a staggering 1,988 deaths. COVID was not the main cause for the spike, however—drug overdoses were.

Los Angeles saw a drastic rise in homelessness over the past few years. The population grew by 50% from 2015 to 2020 to reach 66,436. As overpasses become more accessible, RVs with deteriorating conditions cluster under the tents.

These are the biggest crowds, and they make it almost impossible to access local businesses because of their tent cities that stretch block by block.

 

Said Hilda Solis of Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

These findings reflect an actual state of emergency. In a civil society, it is unacceptable for any of us to not be profoundly disturbed by the shocking needs documented in this year’s homeless mortality report.

The report stated that drug overdoses caused the greatest death toll. Methamphetamines and fentanyl were most responsible. COVID, which had a death count of 179, was second leading cause of death after heart disease. After that are deaths attributed to homicide, suicide, traffic injuries, and “other unintentional causes” — combining those, however, totals 375 — higher than the COVID number. It’s clear that the COVID threat pales in comparison to the danger of living life on the street.

As if things couldn‘t get any worse for Angelenos, a UCLA “Quality of Life Index” released Friday revealed the lowest satisfaction rate since the survey began seven years ago. Top issues were high prices, homelessness and rising crime.

UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs ran the survey. L.A. County scored 53 out of a possible 100 points, marking the first time the county has dropped below the survey’s median of 55.

In the meantime, Dr. Barbara Ferrer decided last week to reinstate a mandate for all public transport. Thanks, Barbara!

Los Angeles certainly isn’t the only American city to experience a homeless problem—just ask San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, even Honolulu. (Wouldn’t have guessed that one.)

RedState’s Jennifer Oliver O’Connell has been exploring some of the causes of homelessness, as well as possible solutions. Spoiler alert: she’s not a Gavin Newsom fan.

These deaths are mainly due to drug addiction. No matter how often they tell us the homeless phenomenon is about housing affordability, it’s clear that addiction is also a primary culprit.

We offer our condolences to those who are grieving, as well as their families. We have to fix the problem, which has made major cities nearly unrecognizable. The only way we can hold our leaders accountable is through the ballot box.

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