LA number of homeless deaths may be higher than 900

City Controller Kenneth Mejia’s office announced today that the reported decrease in the number of deaths of unhoused people in Los Angeles may not be accurate. This is because the reported number did not include deaths that were still being investigated by the medical examiner.

Mejia’s office announced on Thursday that a yearly analysis found that there were 900 deaths of people without homes in the city in 2023. This is a 22% decrease compared to the previous year.

On Friday, the office released a statement correcting their previous information. They explained that they had received data from the coroner which they believed included all deaths of unhoused individuals in 2023. Today, we learned that the data only included closed cases, not total cases.

“We will update our page on unhoused deaths in 2023 and conduct a new analysis once we have all the data,” the statement said. The number of unresolved cases related to the deaths of homeless people in the city in 2023 was not clear.

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The exact number of deaths among unhoused individuals in 2023 is not yet known. However, the 900 deaths that Mejia’s office emphasized on Thursday shed light on the harmful effects of homelessness and the ongoing difficulties in dealing with substance abuse problems. Mejia’s office announced on Thursday that they have created a data tool to track the deaths of homeless people. They hope that this tool will provide information to guide public policy decisions and allocate funds to those in need.

“The city needs more services, regardless of whether the number of deaths of unhoused Angelenos goes down or up,” the statement continued. “In Los Angeles, there are people without homes who are dying for different reasons. The city’s failure to address the homelessness crisis is making this situation worse.”

The map from the controller displays information about deaths of unhoused individuals, including details like age, gender, cause of death, and how it happened. It also shows the Council District and location where each death took place. The analysis by the controller found that the most common cause of death was classified as a “accident” (about 678 deaths or 75%) – these cases are considered closed.

Mayor Karen Bass responded to the report by saying, “Every death is a tragedy, and we offer our condolences to the friends, family, and community members who have lost a loved one because of this crisis.”

She said, “Our main goal has been to take immediate action to save lives. Although the controller’s data released today shows a decrease in deaths, we are aware that there is still a lot more work to do.”

Council District 1 and 14, which include downtown, north, and northeast areas, had the highest number of deaths based on the latest incomplete data. These districts also have some of the highest populations of people experiencing homelessness.

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