L.A. Homeless Deaths Spiked 56 Percent in 2020—Drugs Are to Blame, Not COVID

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

L.A. County’s Department of Health released a report Friday showing that deaths among the homeless shot up 56 percent during the pandemic’s first year, tallying a staggering 1,988 deaths. COVID was not the main cause for the spike, however—drug overdoses were.


Los Angeles has seen a dramatic rise in homelessness in recent years, with the population growing by 50 percent from 2015 to 2020, to a total of 66,436. Tents crowd sidewalks and dilapidated RVs cluster beneath overpasses.

The biggest congregations are downtown, where tent cities stretch for block after block in a dystopian scene, making it nearly impossible to enter local businesses.


Said Hilda Solis of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors:

The findings in this report reflect a true state of emergency. In a civil society, it is unacceptable for any of us to not be profoundly disturbed by the shocking needs documented in this year’s homeless mortality report.

Drug overdoses were the biggest contributor to the toll, the report said, with methamphetamine and fentanyl blamed most. Heart disease was the second highest cause of death, while COVID was the third-leading cause, with a death toll of 179. After that are deaths attributed to homicide, suicide, traffic injuries, and “other unintentional causes” — combining those, however, totals 375 — higher than the COVID number. It’s clear that the COVID threat pales in comparison to the danger of living life on the street.

As if things couldn‘t get any worse for Angelenos, a UCLA “Quality of Life Index” released Friday revealed the lowest satisfaction rate since the survey began seven years ago. High prices, homelessness, rising crime, and health concerns were top issues.


The survey was run by the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs. L.A. County scored 53 out of a possible 100 points, marking the first time the county has dropped below the survey’s median of 55.

Meanwhile, Dr. Barbara Ferrer chose last week to re-instate a mask mandate on all public transportation. Thanks, Barbara!

Los Angeles certainly isn’t the only American city to experience a homeless problem—just ask San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, even Honolulu. (Wouldn’t have guessed that one.)

RedState’s Jennifer Oliver O’Connell has been exploring some of the causes of homelessness, as well as possible solutions. Spoiler alert: she’s not a Gavin Newsom fan.

Drugs are the main cause behind these deaths. No matter how often they tell us the homeless phenomenon is about housing affordability, it’s clear that addiction is also a primary culprit.

Our hearts go out to the deceased and their loved ones, and we feel for those who have fallen on hard times. Nevertheless we need to solve this problem which is making our major cities virtually unrecognizable. We need to hold our leaders to account, and the only way to do that is at the ballot box.


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