These people can’t even count, can they?

LA levels of homelessness were once unthinkable in the UK. Not any more


For the past five years I’ve lived in Los Angeles, where thousands of destitute people call the streets home on any given day. In part due to spiralling rents, LA has an astounding homelessness problem (recent figures revealed a 16% jump in the city to more than 36,000 out of a population of just under 4 million) in a country where “tent cities” have been normal for some time.

That’s terrible.

The statistics are bad. An official estimate reported a 165% jump in rough sleepers in England since 2010 – a total of 4,677 people on a single given night in autumn 2018.

LA has 0.9% of the population rough sleeping. The UK has 0.007%. This is the same is it?

The arts graduates not realising that two orders of magnitude different really is different?

18 thoughts on “These people can’t even count, can they?”

  1. A better comparison would have been San Francisco, the living embodiment of everything they believe in. I believe that place has a slight problem with homelessness, not to mention people shitting in the street.

  2. I’m sure there’s a difference in the definitions, as well. In LA, homeless does indeed mean homeless. “Rough sleeper” can mean something different.
    There’s always people will leave the home they have, try and make it on their own. Something I’ve seen in London. They’ve had problems at home. Maybe of their own making. Come to the big city because that’s where it’s all happening. Except it doesn’t happen to them. They don’t know anybody. They’ve no idea how the place works. They run out of money & end up dossing on the streets.
    You can tell the difference. The long term street sleepers are more organised. But they also have a distinct ‘shine’ on them if you get too close. The runaways don’t have sleeping bags or proper blankets or know where to doss. With them it’s a battle between pride & discomfort. Eventually discomfort wins out & they go back where they came from. They were never properly homeless in the first place, but they’d be in the figures. And guessing the quoted autumn figure was a high point – makes sense. It’s when you tend to get more of these people. The holiday season’s over & it’s the time to get back to the grind. Problems have built up over the summer. And it’s still not cold enough, a couple nights freezing in a shop doorway chases them back to the family. You call that homeless?
    There’s also a third group. The scammers. Seen this lot in action. Huddled in shop doorways in a dirty blanket, round the West End. Begging bowl out. Bunch of them used to rendezvous in a pub on Green Lanes, Harringay. Divvy up the days take, piles of coins on the table. Enough they’d be up to the bar every ten minutes. Since they were often in the pub, they must live round there somewhere. They’re not sleeping in Hornsey High Street. But it doesn’t mean they’re not turning up in someone’s rough sleeper figures.

  3. Those without a physical roof over their head–in the UK–are a tiny and mostly mentally ill/alcoholic/druggie fraction of those classed as “homeless”.

    In Kalifornicata the weather means that it is usually much more possible to survive outdoors.

    As for official UK “homeless” lots of them will be migrants who don’t need to be here anyway. And without whom lots of UK folk would have more housing choice.

  4. Mention of the scammers reminded me of Stephen King’s Hearts in Atlantis, there’s a small side story of this war veteran, lives in a nice house in a New York suburb, suits up every morning, takes a commuter train to city. Has a small office rented, changes into tramp clothes and goes to the streets and begs for living, Vietnam vet disabled homeless etc, has a regular spot, earns loads of money but has to pay a beat cop a bribe every day. I think he recognises someone, or vice versa, there’s trouble.

  5. @Jussi
    It’s something you don’t know about unless you’ve a finger on the pulse. Are streetwise.
    There’s an old girl goes around Puerto Banus – Spain’s rather tack answer to Cannes- with her polystyrene cup. Does well enough to run a Merc & a lux villa in Nueve Andalucia. Been doing it for years. Sussed her well before I was tipped off. Just looking at her hands. They’re not the hands of a poor person, needs to beg on the streets.

  6. Tim did UK pop for England figs but gets the right order of magnitude, which is what needs to be cared about the difference between an error and a gross error.

    Mary didn’t mention, 1,000 out of that 4,000 were EU nationals. Having fled the LA problem, and checked the England stats, worried she’ll have to move again, she will be glad there are some policy options that will become available in the not too distant future to help address that portion.
    p.s. would be good to know the internal UK breakdown. .e.g. since Nichola’s stint is Scotland still a net exporter of homelessness?

    Also 86% were male, so if Austerity is to blame where are all the female homeless?

  7. A more interesting Sherlock Holmes story with the same plot was “The Man with the Twisted Lip”, 1891.

    Yes, who makes fairly large sums (several times his salary) in the City by impressing passers by with his literary allusions and quotes. He’d make fuck all there these days with that system.

  8. There’s an old girl goes around Puerto Banus – Spain’s rather tack answer to Cannes

    I was there for two days, you couldn’t move for Africans insisting on selling you watches.

  9. Too many arts grads take great pride in not being good at arithmetic. It’s surprising really when you consider that some great artists have actually been quite good at math, Da Vinci being perhaps the best example. They’d be surprised how many engineers can play an instrument.

  10. WTAF? The stupid bitch’s own figures show LA has nine times as many rough sleepers (that 36,000 is people living on the streets, not those without a home of their own) as the whole of England.

  11. @Mr Ecks September 25, 2019 at 10:13 am

    “lots of them will be migrants” like Romanian tent city in Mayfair – courts ruled we can’t deport them

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