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Another Death on the Streets ~ More than 1,200 Homeless People Died in Los Angeles Since 2017

12:39 PM PST on December 31, 2018

[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]ate Saturday morning, a homeless man was found dead on the streets of Koreatown. The coroner picked the man up on New Hampshire near Wilshire, steps from the Vermont/Wilshire Metro stop and a block away from a proposed emergency homeless shelter that was set to be built earlier this year.

It was one more death on the streets in a year that saw an alarming spike in crimes against the homeless.

According to Los Angeles County Coroner records, more than 1,200 homeless people have died since 2017. Violent crime against homeless people is up significantly, according to the Los Angeles Police Department's yearly report.

A 2017 report by the Department of Health said that a significant amount of those homeless deaths were caused by preventable illnesses like cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, diabetes, cancer, cirrhosis, severe bacterial infections, and other treatable conditions.

On the same day that the homeless man in Koreatown died, the LAPD announced that crimes against the homeless had gone up 96 percent in the last year – a startling figure.

K-town resident Nick Dowling was walking to work with his partner when he came up the coroner carting off the deceased homeless man Saturday.

"We saw the coroner van in front of the building where the man was found. There were probably about four to five people standing watching the coroner," Dowling said. "We stayed for about 10-15 minutes watching but could only see the man's feet."

RELATED: Car Splits in Two and Nearly Crashes Into Someone's Tent: The Everyday Dangers Faced By Unhoused People on the Streets

The site at 682 S. Vermont Ave near 7th Street was identified as one of more than 1,500 potential new shelter beds in the wake of Mayor Eric Garcetti declaring that Los Angeles had a "shelter crisis" back in April.

The project was met with support but also an extreme backlash from some people in the community. The city-owned parking lot is still being considered for redevelopment but the project has since been moved down the boulevard to the tennis courts of Lafayette Park in Westlake.

"I was a supporter of the emergency homeless shelter proposed for Vermont and 7th," Dowling told L.A. Taco. "I think the homeless crisis in Los Angeles is a tragic failure on a number of levels."

RELATED: South Gate Community Fights Proposal for Housing Homeless Veterans on Downey Border

[dropcap size=big]H[/dropcap]omeless people represent less than two percent of the population but they fell victim to 14 percent of all recorded homicide and 11% percent of all reported rape in 2018.

"It is first, and most immediately, a failure of community," Dowling said. "When you have a society that allows people to die on the street because they cannot afford housing or healthcare, you are, in effect, condoning it."

The 2018 LAPD report on violent crimes against homelessness – 15,090 this year  – reveals the many dangers that homeless people face on a regular basis. The numbers also show the ways in which homeless people are targeted by police.

While tickets for crossing a walkway against a do-not-walk signal decreased by 51 percent for homeless people, tickets for riding a motorized bicycle or walking on an expressway increased by more than 400 percent. Misdemeanor arrests of homeless people were down 16 percent overall though.

As temperatures dip into the 30s around the New Year, keep your homeless neighbors in your thoughts this holiday evening. If you pass by someone sprawled on the street, check on them.

[Updated: January 1, 2018]

RELATED: The Everyday Dangers Faced By Unhoused People on the Streets

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