US homeless count rises, pushed by crisis on the West Coast

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nation’s homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a report Wednesday showing nearly 554,000 homeless people across the country during local tallies conducted in January.

That figure is up nearly 1 percent from 2016.

The number of homeless with no access to nightly shelters who instead stay in vehicles, tents, on the streets or in abandoned buildings also is up — by more than 9 percent compared to two years ago.

Increases are higher in Los Angeles and several other West Coast cities, driven by soaring rents.