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Los Angeles County Homeless Count Data Library

Source records from Los Angeles Continuum of Care homeless counts, 2009 to 2017

September 1, 2018 / By Paul Beeman
Underwriter: Economic Roundtable

Overview of Data:

Fifty-seven files from homeless street counts, demographic surveys of unsheltered individuals, and intake data for shelter residents, along with supporting documentation are available in this data library. These open source, de-identified person records provided by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) are a resource for homeless research.

LAHSA conducts counts of homeless residents in Los Angeles County, excluding the cities of Glendale, Long Beach and Pasadena, which conduct their own counts. From 2005 to 2015, the counts were conducted every other year. Since 2015, the counts have been conducted every year. This data library includes records from 2009 through 2017.

Roughly 70 percent of the point-in-time population lives in unsheltered locations  such as sidewalks, vehicles, or road embankments. These individuals are counted by volunteers who are assigned to carry out the count in census tracts throughout the county. Information about the attributes of unsheltered individuals is obtained through a demographic survey of a sample of this population. Since 2013, information about the other 30 percent of individuals who are in shelters is obtained from Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) records from the month preceding the count, which provide data about both their attributes and the number residing in shelters on a given night. Prior to 2013, individuals in shelters were counted but not described separately. The demographic survey and HMIS records provide separate sources of information about the attributes of homeless individuals from 2013 onwards.

HMIS records include the complete universe of sheltered individuals – roughly 11,000 to 14,000 records depending on the year. Even though the demographic survey represents a larger population, there are fewer records – 3,000 to 5,000 depending on the year – because this information must be obtained through personal surveys. Differences between the populations shown in HMIS records compared to the demographic survey include larger shares of women, children and newly homeless individuals in HMIS records.

This data library included the original records from the street counts conducted from 2009 to 2017. The purpose of the street count is to determine the total number of unsheltered individuals. Separate street count information is provided for youth. Each file contains a list of the census tracts where counts were conducted and results from each tract, including the number of homeless individuals, vehicles, tents and shelters that were enumerated. In 2016 and 2017, the youth street count and demographic surveys were combined, with the surveyed population also representing the counted population. Up through 2015, the street count used census tract boundaries and numbering from the 2000 census. Beginning in 2016, the street count used tract boundaries and numbering from the 2010 census.

Paul Beeman from the Economic Roundtable has produced standardized versions of records for many of the homeless count files, with consistent labeling and a codebook for each data set. This includes demographic surveys of unsheltered individuals from 2011 to 2017, and HMIS records used in the 2016 and 2017 counts. In addition, he produced a multi-year data set containing a reduced set of variables that are available in all records from 2011 to 2017 for both sheltered and unsheltered individuals.

Links for downloading each data set are provided below, beginning with the multi-year records, then moving sequentially from 2017 to earlier years. Each data set is available in the original form provided by LAHSA with the questionnaire used to obtain the information, along with a standardized version codebook for those years where they are available. In addition the methodology report explaining the statistical procedures used for each homeless and all available codebooks are provided.

Multi-Year Data Set

2018 Data

2017 Data

2016 Data

2015 Data

2013 Data

2011 Data

2009 Data

Area of Work: People
Tags: Data Library, Demographic Survey, HMIS Records, Homeless Counts, Homeless Survey Records, Homelessness, LAHSA, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, Street Count, Unsheltered Homelessness