The number of young people living on the streets of Los Angeles County has shot exponentially up since last year, according to new local figures.
The annual survey, conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, found the number of homeless young people in the county increased 61% over the total for 2016 in January alone. That means that around 6,000 young people, mostly between the ages of 18-24, were homeless in L.A. County.
The increase could partly be attributed to a more accurate count than in previous years, Executive Director Peter Lynn told the Los Angeles Times. But that isn’t a full explanation—and local non-profits told the newspaper that homeless shelters and services have been overwhelmed for some time.
L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn responded to the survey on Wednesday by pointing to Measure H, an initiative approved by voters earlier this year, which will implement a 0.25% county sales tax that officials hope will generate $355 million per year to address homelessness.
“The results of this year’s homeless count are staggering. Homelessness in L.A. County has grown at a shocking rate. Even as work is being done to get thousands of people off the street and into housing, more and more people are becoming homeless,” Hahn said in a statement. “It is clear that if we are going to end the homeless crisis, we need to stem the overwhelming tide of people falling into homelessness.”
The numbers of all homeless people in L.A. County also rose 23% in January over last year: to 57,794 people in total, from 46,874 in 2016.
The city of Los Angeles saw a 20% increase in homelessness in January, with 34,189 total people living on the streets. In 2015, when the city had roughly 26,000 people who were homeless, Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a public emergency and directed $100 million towards tackling the issue.
“It’s impossible to wrap your head around the numbers,” Garcetti said on Wednesday, addressing reporters. “We can’t let rents double every year.”