Theories abound about the reasons for booming homelessness downtown but no one can explain exactly why it’s booming.
Since January alone, a business group’s monthly census has shown a 68 percent spike in street homelessness downtown. The count peaked at nearly 1,400 in August and has since hovered around 1,130. More tents line city blocks and more homeless people cluster near freeway on-ramps, businesses and homeless services.
Some local leaders have said Proposition 47, a state ballot initiative that downgraded some felonies to misdemeanors in an effort to reduce the state prison population, is a significant culprit. Others have speculated about the impact of high rents, an influx of homeless people from other areas and even the way the homeless population is counted.
Homeless service providers and data gurus aren’t so sure what’s driving the massive uptick.