Story at a glance

  • A bombshell report shows that close to 1,500 homeless Los Angelenos died on the street during the pandemic.
  • The report was crafted by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, with the help of a group of other researchers focusing on homelessness
  • Los Angeles has experienced a rise in homelessness, and the study serves a reminder of the crisis.

A total of 1,493 people experiencing homelessness died on the streets of Los Angeles during the pandemic, according to a new report.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, along with a coalition of researchers focused on homelessness, studied data from the L.A. County coroner’s records and found that nearly 1,500 people died on the city’s streets between March 2020 and July of this year. 

Those that died were most likely people experiencing homelessness, according to the report, with the most common cause of death being accidental overdose. 


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Researchers determined whether or not a deceased person was homeless by the location of their death, which included bus stops, tents, riverbeds, railroads, encampments, sidewalks, parks, abandoned buildings and freeway underpasses. Another 418 people died during that time frame in motels and hotels, the report states, which researchers understood as a “crucial site of residency for the unhoused” during the pandemic. 

Researchers suspect that more than 1,500 people experiencing homelessness died during the pandemic and that their findings are an underestimate given the limits of the publicly available data used to compile the report. 

The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner only covers deaths that were deemed “sudden, violent, or unusual, and those deaths where the decedent has not been seen by a physician 20 days prior to death,” according to The Guardian.

“We are acutely aware of the limitations of coroner’s data – of how people are identified and counted, of the causes to which death is attributed, and the absences and silences in the data,'' the report’s foreward reads. “Our broader research endeavor is precisely a  counterpoint to such dehumanization. Yet, we have felt the  imperative to present this analysis of coroner’s data because it provides an understanding of key patterns and trends that are of direct relevance to the struggle for justice and freedom in Los Angeles.” 

Out of the nearly 1,500 people who died on a Los Angeles street, 35 percent died on a sidewalk, with the average age of death being 47 years old. Researchers determined that 25 percent of those who passed away on the street were Black, a striking high number given that only 8 percent of the total population of Los Angeles is Black.

Forty percent of those who died experienced a drug or alcohol overdose, a coroner or medical examiner found according to the report. 


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Published on Dec 01, 2021