The number of rough sleepers is growing in many cities across the UK.
But anyone who has spent time on the west coast of the United States will know the scale of street homelessness there is of a different order – large patches of shanty-type dwellings and tent encampments are visible under freeways and out on the hillsides.
The latest figures show the problem is getting worse. The number of homeless people in the city of Los Angeles increased by 20 per cent to just over 34,000. In the wider, suburban Los Angeles county, the number of homeless people rose 23 per cent to almost 58,000.
“It’s impossible to wrap your head around the numbers,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who admitted there was “no sugar coating the bad news.”
A very big part of the problem is the shortage of affordable housing
Back in 2015 the LA authorities declared homelessness a “public emergency” and committed $100 million to addressing it.
But the scale of the challenge in attempting to help so many people now engrained in life on the streets – many suffering from long-term addiction and mental health issues – remains daunting.