Over the last two decades, the city of Los Angeles has averaged about 300 homicides per year, out of population that currently sits just under 4 million. But according to a new study from UCLA, more than five times as many Angelenos died on the city streets during this pandemic (specifically, between March 2020 and July 2021).
This calculation only includes unhoused Angelenos whose fatalities were, "sudden, violent or unusual," according to The Guardian, and does not include people without consistent and reliant housing who had died while hospitalized or receiving medical care, or while living out of cars or shelters. It's literally just people who were victims of poverty and its comorbidities, who were found dead on the city streets over the course of 16 months.
From The Guardian:
• More than 35% of the 1,493 deaths occurred on sidewalks. The next most common sites were parking lots (13%), alleys (5.7%), tents (5.6%) and embankments (3.6%).
• The average age of unhoused residents who died was 47 years old.
• Black residents made up 25% of all unhoused deaths, while constituting only 8% of the region's population.
• 48% of deaths were classified as accidental, 19% natural, 13% as homicides and 9% were suicides. The rates of accidental deaths and homicides were higher among unhoused people than among the general population in that time period.
• Nearly 40% of the accidental deaths were attributed to drug and alcohol overdoses, mirroring the sharp increase in overdoses in the broader population.
The rate of death for unhoused Angelenos has increased by an average of 16 percent each year since 2014, according to UCLA. Meanwhile, Angelenos with secure housing are literally starting forest fires in order to drive out the city's population of human fucking beings without consistent housing — who, it's worth reiterating, are dying at extraordinary rates.
This is why poverty reduction efforts matter. This is why safe injection sites matter. This is why abortion rights matter. This is why public healthcare matters. We're taught from an early age to uphold "random-ass murder" as this terrifying boogeyman — but in reality, the threat of poverty is much more deadly.
1,500 unhoused LA residents died on the streets during pandemic, report reveals [Sam Levin / The Guardian]
Image: Levi Clancy / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 4.0)