homeless man
Robert Mason, a 56-year-old homeless man, warms up a piece of doughnut over a bonfire he set to keep himself warm on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Image Credit: AP

Homelessness in Los Angeles County rose to the highest level on record, with an estimated 75,518 people living on the streets despite growing efforts to tackle the crisis.

The annual estimate is from the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority, based on a survey conducted in January. Its volunteers scoured city streets over several nights, counting people sleeping in cars, on sidewalks and in alleys.

Some progress has been made since that survey. Earlier this month, Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass reported that 14,000 people have been moved off the streets in the six months since she assumed office in December.

Since declaring a homelessness emergency on her first day in office, Bass has implemented her so-called Inside Safe program, which has turned motels and hotels across the city into temporary shelters.

The ultimate objective is to transition individuals to permanent housing, but that's a challenge in a county that's half a million units short of meeting the current demand for affordable housing.

The majority of homeless people in Los Angeles live on the streets rather than seeking shelter, given the region's relatively mild weather. The most recent numbers were reported earlier Thursday by the Los Angeles Times.

The homeless population in California's major cities has swelled to more than 170,000 people "- about a third of the US total. As of the previous tally in 2022, Los Angeles County, with a population of about 9.8 million, had 69,144 people sleeping on the streets.

Voters and their elected representatives have adopted numerous measures to tackle homelessness, including county and city bond issues.

City officials have taken steps to address public frustration with the problem, marked by sprawling tent cities and makeshift encampments becoming permanent fixtures. The Los Angeles City Council approved a ban on homeless people setting up tents within 500 feet (152 meters) of schools and day-care centers.