By Lance Izumi and Michele Steeb
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that over 75 percent of those living on the streets in California’s largest city are struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, or a physical disability.
Most of us would not call this “newsworthy.” As we walk the streets of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento, it’s just plain obvious.
The Times’s analysis aligns with a new national study released by the California Policy Lab at UCLA reporting that 78 percent of the nation’s homeless struggle with mental illness and 75 percent with a substance abuse disorder.
The significance of this report: officials from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority earlier reported that only 29 percent of LA’s homeless were afflicted by either mental illness or a substance use disorder.
News organizations throughout the country should follow the Times’s lead and do a deeper dive into what their homeless services agencies are reporting. Why? Because it makes no sense to continue to prescribe solutions to the problem of homelessness without understanding what led folks into it . . .