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12 percent jump in homelessness in LA County

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LA homelessThe number of homeless people in Los Angeles County jumped 12 percent in the past two years to more than 44,000 amid a sluggish economic recovery that has left the poorest residents of the second-largest U.S. metropolitan area falling farther behind, a study released on Monday found.

Most of those counted weren't staying in homeless shelters. The study also found that the number of tents, makeshift encampments and vehicles with people living in them jumped by 85 percent to around 9,500.

"California was one of the hardest hit states in the country during the economic recession, suffering high unemployment and high job losses," the housing authority said in a news release. "There is a lag in rebound and the working poor and low-income individuals have been hit particularly hard, with the trifecta of unemployment, stagnant wages and a lack of affordable housing."

"The economy has improved, but not for the persons at greatest risk of homelessness," said Peter Lynn, the authority's executive director.

Other big cities have experienced similar increases in homelessness, for many of the same reasons. According to the advocacy group Coalition for the Homeless, the number of New Yorkers sleeping in the city’s many shelters is up more than 65 percent from 10 years ago. In January, the system held more than 60,000 people, including more than 25,000 kids.

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