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Is California unsafe? Scott Baio says he’s leaving because of crime and homeless crisis

‘Happy Days’ star Scott Baio says that he’s leaving California citing rising crime and homelessness. So how bad are things in the Golden State?

Scott Baio says he's leaving California because it’s “unsafe”

Scott Baio, best known for his role as Chachi in ‘Happy Days’ says that he’s leaving California citing rising crime and homelessness. “After 45 years, I’m making my way to finally ‘exit stage right’ from California,” he posted on Twitter. In the tweet he cited findings from a recent study conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority stating that the number of homeless people in the LA County area was around 69,000 and the city 41,000.

“This brings down property value. Also no consequences for crime that is rampant, making things higher in price and it’s just not a safe place anymore,” Baio said in another tweet posting it with the hashtag “#ImFree.” So, are property values coming down and is it due to homelessness? Is crime rising in the Golden State? We have a look.

Is California unsafe?

Firstly, looking at the crime rate in California, violent crime increased by six percent between 2020 and 2021 from 440 per 100,000 residents in 2020 to 466. The current rate statewide is about middle of the road in the US ranked 20th according to World Population Review.

The Public Policy Institute of California notes that after peaking in 1992 at 1,115 per 100,000, the rate dramatically dropped over the following three decades to hit a low of 392 in 2014. And the violent and property crime rate, while fluctuating from year to year, has remained stable between 428 and 466 over the past decade.

So, if Baio moved to California in the late 70s he would have seen a significant spike in crime before it peaked. And an even greater improvement over the past three decades.

Is homelessness on the rise in California?

Homelessness in the US had been trending down according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Point in Time” survey until 2016. Prior to the pandemic, the number of people experiencing homelessness began to tick up again. Since 2020 it has increased in 27 states, and doubling in some.

Four states account for half of the overall population according to the 2022 Annual Homeless Assessment Report. California accounted for a third of homeless people in the United States. It has increased by over 23 percent since 2007 but in recent years the pace has been slowing just rising 6.2 percent since 2020 (there was no data from 2021 due to the pandemic).

The latest report from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority found similar trends in their survey which Baio cited. Between 2018 and 2020 Los Angeles County and the city saw the homelessness population rise by almost 26 percent and 32 percent, respectively. But in the last two years the increase has slowed to just 4.1 percent and 1.7 percent.

Are property values coming down in California and is it due to homelessness?

The ‘Happy Days’ actor said that as a result of rising homelessness property values were dropping. According to Norada the median price has decreased by 8 percent year over year in March 2023. However, the drop in value “is due to higher mortgage rates that have caused a decrease in closed sales in the region,” says real estate investment firm.

However, inventory remains low so that should maintain “upward pressure on home prices in the coming months.” This is a trend being experienced by other metro areas around the nation, especially those that saw incredible home price increases during the pandemic when interest rates were at historic lows. According to Redfin the median price in Los Angeles went from below $800,000 in March 2020 to over $1 million two years later and is slightly below that mark today.