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Housing and Homelessness

1,500 Unhoused Angelenos Died During The Pandemic. Many Of Those Deaths Were Preventable

In what appears to be an evening lot, people walk near a homeless encampment of tents along a fence. Brick buildings are in the background, with skyscrapers in the distance.
File: Night falls on a "crack alley," so-called for its 24-hour drug trading, especially in cheap crack cocaine, Dec. 11, 2000 in Los Angeles. Non-paying strangers are met with great suspicion by homeless gang members.
(David McNew
/
Hulton Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images)
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At least 1,500 unhoused Angelenos have died over the course of the pandemic, according to a new report — and many of those deaths were preventable, it says.

A team of researchers at UCLA and homeless advocates looked at L.A. County coroner records from March 2020-July 2021.

But since those records don't specify housing status, researchers narrowed down those believed to be homeless based on where those deaths were reported. Those places include sidewalks, parking lots, and tents.

"Even though the number 1,493 is a huge number, we also argue that number is most likely an undercount," UCLA Professor Ananya Roy said. Roy led the study.

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Nearly half of those deaths were ruled accidental. Close to 40% of those deaths were overdoses.

The data points to another disturbing trend, Roy said, with more than 400 deaths reported in hotel or motel rooms. It's not clear how many of those people may have been enrolled in Project Roomkey, the statewide program set up to give homeless people temporary shelter during the pandemic.

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