AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “All the police departments along the 10 Freeway, the 210, the 60, are seeing that because those are the major arteries out of downtown L.A. They take the bus and head east,” he said. But Reyes estimated that 60percent to 65 percent of the local homeless population is from the San Gabriel Valley, or even West Covina. “They started their lives within five miles of the city,” he said. Among the more than 1.6 million people in the San Gabriel Valley, the 2007 countywide Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority count found the numbers had grown from 25,000 homeless annually in 2005 to 27,000 now. That increase bucks the national and local trends. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced last week that there are fewer chronically homeless on the streets, “for the first time ever.” LAHSA’s local homelessness count found more than 13,000 fewer homeless people countywide per year than in their 2005 count. Efforts to clean up Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles are pushing some of that area’s homeless population into the San Gabriel Valley, local officials say. West Covina police Officer David Reyes estimates there are 80 to 120 homeless people in his city. “During the summer we saw a big influx, and the reason for that is all of the new construction going on downtown around Skid Row,” Reyes said. People from other service agencies and the homeless people he has talked to also tell him the homeless are being pushed out. Some police agencies and homeless service providers in the San Gabriel Valley say they aren’t seeing drastic changes, but others have noticed the influx. In Hacienda Heights, the East San Gabriel Valley Coalition for the Homeless is also seeing more people, said Emergency Assistance Center Director Colleen Castellano. “It’s not just a slight increase, it’s really jumped,” Castellano said. “I used to average about 180 to 200 clients a month. Now I’m seeing anywhere from 250 to 300 clients a month, since last winter.” Panhandling has also increased, she said. “Right now, people are reaching into their pockets (to help) because they’re not used to it,” Castellano said. “When they find that it’s being abused, they’ll be less receptive.” But not everyone is feeling the increase. At the sheriff’s Industry station, where Deputy Paul Archambault of the Community Oriented Policing Bureau has overseen several outreach efforts to help the homeless, there’s no notable shift in the population, he said. “We will run into people who will have a Skid Row address,” Archambault said. “If you question them, they may have grown up in Hacienda Heights or Industry or another (local) city, and then gone to Skid Row and come back again.” In Baldwin Park, police Lt. Dave Reynoso said he hasn’t noticed an increase, and at the West Covina Access Center, program manager Maria Baber-Smith says their figures have actually decreased. “I would say that the incidence of homelessness is on the rise, and that’s because incomes and market rate rents are not compatible, and many families are not able to pay their rents,” Baber-Smith said. “So yes, homelessness is increasing, but not drastically here.” Reyes estimates that about 20 to 25 percent of West Covina’s homeless population are recent transplants from Skid Row, including people who used to live in and people who are new to the area. “They feel safer here,” Reyes said. One homeless man, originally from El Monte and West Covina, actually began taking daily bus trips from a shelter on Skid Row back to the San Gabriel Valley before he was recently placed in a local shelter, Reyes said. “He said people are more generous here,” Reyes said. “He says he goes to the mission in L.A. every day, then he’ll commute out here to where he feels safe, panhandle until he has enough money for food for the day, then head back home.” Reyes struggled with whether local residents should be upset about that. “I don’t know,” Reyes said. “They should be bothered that someone has to do this.” [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!