The number of people experiencing homelessness is rising steeply across the Westside and stabilizing in Santa Monica, although the city still has the second-largest homeless population in the area.
The Westside’s homeless population rose about 20% this year to 3,050, the highest growth of any area in Los Angeles County, according to a January point-in-time count organized by the Los Angeles County Homeless Services Authority. The 20% increase in the homeless population reverses a 19% decrease in 2018.
The homeless population of both Santa Monica and the county rose dramatically between 2014 and 2017. The trend showed signs of slowing or reversing in 2018, when the county reported a 3% decrease and Santa Monica’s population grew by 4% after jumping 26% the previous year.
But the county’s homeless population increased by 12% this year and the number of people experiencing homelessness on the Westside, excluding Santa Monica, rose about 31%.
Of the 15 neighborhoods and cities on the Westside, Venice led the pack with 1,128 people experiencing homelessness, an increase of 33% since 2018.
Santa Monica came close behind with 985 people, but the city’s homeless population grew by only 3% this year.
The nature of homelessness in the adjacent communities differs in some noticeable ways.
In Venice, where 40% of homeless people live in their vehicles, vans and RVs are a fixture of both residential and commercial streets. Santa Monica has stricter rules on overnight parking and just 11% of its homeless population lives in vehicles.
Venice also has more homeless people per capita than Santa Monica. Venice’s total population is roughly 40,000, less than half the size of Santa Monica’s, and people experiencing homelessness make up 3% of its population. Only 1% of Santa Monica’s 92,000 residents are homeless.
The third-largest homeless population on the Westside is in West Los Angeles. The number of people experiencing homelessness grew 69% this year to 480 people. 39% of the population live in vehicles.
Most communities near Santa Monica also saw sharp increases, except Brentwood, where the population plunged from 62 to 16, and Pacific Palisades, where the number of people experiencing homelessness dropped to 81 from 107. Increases in the population of people living in vehicles drove overall population growth in many areas.
Malibu’s population more than quadrupled from 30 to 154. About 65% of the city’s new homeless residents live in vehicles.
Mar Vista’s population climbed a modest 9% to 147, while neighboring Palms almost doubled to 168 people. 60% of people experiencing homelessness in Mar Vista live in vehicles. In Palms, the proportion is 48%.
Further east, Culver City’s population doubled to 236, with 38% living in vehicles. To the south, Marina Del Rey’s population also doubled but only to 24 people, three of whom live in cars.