US homeless people numbers rise for first time in seven years

The number of homeless people in the United States has increased for the first time since 2010.

Just under 554,000 people were homeless, a report from the Department of Housing and Urban Development said.

West coast cities like Los Angeles, as well as New York, contributed significantly to the rise.

Los Angeles saw the number of homeless inhabitants rise to 55,000 – an increase of almost a quarter in a single year.

The most alarming consequence of the West Coast homeless explosion is a deadly hepatitis A outbreak that has affected Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and San Diego, the popular tourist destination in a county where more than 5,600 people now live on the streets or in their cars. The disease is spread through a liver-damaging virus that lives in feces.

The outbreak prompted California officials to declare a state of emergency in October.

Other cities recording a large increase include Seattle, San Diego and Sacramento.

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