Report reveals California does a poor job helping its homeless

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On the streets with Los Angeles' homeless
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On the streets with Los Angeles' homeless
Tashea Martinez, 38, who said she had been homeless since she was a teenager, sits in her tent with her dogs in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 13, 2018. Picture taken April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
"The Invisible Man" by H.G. Wells lies on the sidewalk next to a homeless encampment in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 13, 2018. Picture taken April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A tent is seen next to Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 11, 2018. Picture taken April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
PATH Housing Outreach Case Manager Kris Toriz (R) raps with a homeless man he is helping, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 13, 2018. Picture taken April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Brian Romero, 42, sits in a park where he spends time when not sleeping outside a church in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 11, 2018. Romero said he became homeless six years ago after his apartment building burned down. His wife and daughter live with his wife's mother but his hope is to be reunited with them and to have a job and a home. Picture taken April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Fernando Ochoa, 65, who has been homeless for a week, sits on a park bench in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 11, 2018. Ochoa said he had worked as a foreman for Albertson's and a Service Advisor for Honda but is now retired and is looking for housing. Picture taken April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Maxx Hamilton, 27, who has been homeless for 12 years, sits on the street in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 13, 2018. Hamilton said her mother died when she was 14 and her father died when she was 20-years-old. Picture taken April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Vincent Wigh, 39, stands by his dog snack business in a park in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 11, 2018. Wigh has been homeless for 6 months. Wigh said he worked as a software programmer and later an Uber driver in the Bay Area for years but his life was thrown off track when his four-year-old child died of cancer. Picture taken April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Cedric Sweeting, 63, who has been homeless for a year, sits next to his tent in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 13, 2018. Picture taken April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Daniel McMillan, 45, who has been homeless for 20 years, sits with his dog on the street where he lives in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 29, 2018. Picture taken March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Vicki Dollar, 70, who has been homeless for a year with her son after he lost his job and they were evicted, stands next to her tent which they city requires her to take down during the day, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 13, 2018. Picture taken April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Patricia, 26, and Denzel, 27, who came from Indiana and have been homeless for almost 2 years, sit on a park bench in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 11, 2018. Picture taken April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Carmen Ramirez, 78, stands in front of the tent in which she sleeps on the street in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 29, 2018. Ramirez takes down her tent during the day to comply with city regulations. Picture taken March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Jimmy Melgar, 33, who has been homeless for 2 years, lies on the reclining chair on which he sleeps in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 29, 2018. Picture taken March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A woman sleeps on the street in Los Angeles, California, U.S. March 29, 2018. Picture taken March 29, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
PATH Housing Outreach Case Managers Kris Toriz (L) and Brandon Ladell unload hygene kits and food to give to homeless people in Los Angeles, California, U.S. April 11, 2018. Picture taken April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
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April 20 (Reuters) - California does a poor job helping homeless people who live in cars, abandoned buildings and on the street find shelter and must do more to address the problem in their state that leads the nation in homelessness, the state's auditor said on Thursday.

Lawmakers should require the state's newly formed homeless council to create and implement a statewide plan by next April for addressing homelessness in California, where about a fourth of all homeless people in the United States live, State Auditor Elaine Howle said in a report.

"California should do more to address homelessness ... and it does a poor job of sheltering this vulnerable population," the report said.

Howle also recommended the state fully staff the council, created in 2016, increase funding for activities recommended by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and improve efforts to raise non-federal money to address homelessness, which increased 14 percent from 2016 to 2017 in California.

"At first blush the audit appears to highlight what is obvious to many Californians; the state needs to do a better job of getting people off the streets," said State Senator Scott Wilk, who requested the report, in a statement.

The Los Angeles metro area has alone seen a 75 percent increase in unsheltered homelessness in the last six years, partly due to the lack of affordable housing in the area, according to federal data.

"We have tried every avenue for the last two years ... nothing," Theresa Shelton, 32, who lives in a car with her boyfriend in Lancaster, a city in northern Los Angeles County, told Reuters. She added that the system to help the homeless is greatly overburdened.

Three out of every four of the 55,000 homeless people in the Los Angeles metro area are in a similar situation, living in a car, abandoned buildings or on the street. In contrast, only one out of every 20 of the 76,000 homeless people in New York, the nation's largest metro area, are unsheltered, the report said.

Two factors have played a role in the difference between New York and Los Angeles. First, up until recently, when the state's homeless council was formed, California did not have a single entity that was dealing with homelessness.

In the New York metro area, where about 85 percent of the state's homeless live, however, New York City’s Department of Homeless Services is a well established entity with 2,000 employees and a $1 billion budget, the report said.

The other factor is money. New York's homeless agency budgeted $17,000 while Los Angeles budgeted $5,000 per homeless individual in 2017, the report said.

"The right to shelter in New York City is legally mandated and plays a central role in shaping its response to homelessness," the report said. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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