More taxpayer dollars are being spent on homeless housing and services, yet homelessness in Los Angeles County increased 12% last year and chronic homelessness is up 17%. Society needs to do better. Homelessness is an income problem as well as a housing problem — and both need to be addressed to solve L.A.’s homeless crisis.
We can’t navigate without a map. If we can't see the whole picture of homelessness, we can't begin to solve the problem. This meta-analysis brings together 26 point-in-time data sets to provide a single panoramic description of people without homes who are living in places not meant for human habitation. In addition to building affordable housing, the path for ending Los Angeles County’s crisis of chronic homelessness is through identifying individuals with a high risk of becoming chronically homeless early after the onset of homelessness and intervening with coordinated system-wide assistance that supports a permanent exit from homelessness before the problem is catastrophic.
Within the past year, Los Angeles County and City voters approved $4.75 billion for services and housing to combat homelessness. The Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count is crucial for identifying how this money should be used to help people escape homelessness. The Count is an increasingly comprehensive effort to count and describe Los Angeles’ homeless residents, but it is not yet sufficiently accurate to identify year-to-year changes in homelessness.
Public assistance programs are Los Angeles’s primary interface with individuals experiencing homelessness and can be a catalyst for connecting at-risk and homeless recipients with crucial services and reducing the massive public costs associated with chronic homelessness. The vital role is to identify tripwire events among all recipients, particularly children and transition-age youth, and quickly connect at-risk individuals with needed employment, behavioral health and housing services.
Evaluating the outcomes for 163 hospital patients screened from April 2011 to May 2013 by the 10th Decile Project in Los Angeles, which works with hospitals to identify the 10 percent of homeless patients with the highest public and hospital costs – the 10th decile – and provide immediate services for placing these individuals into permanent supportive housing.
The triage tool, or crisis indicator, identifies homeless individuals in hospitals and jails who have continuing crises in their lives that create very high public costs. This redesigned tool is four times more accurate than the earlier screening tool released in 2010. The tool is developed for use in jails, hospitals and clinics where homeless individuals with high levels of need and high public costs are most likely to be found. Discovery of the exceptionally high public costs for people in the 10th cost decile has led to interest in identifying these individuals and giving them high priority for access to permanent supportive housing. This group accounts for well over half of all public costs for homeless adults, and their costs decrease by 86 percent when they live in permanent supportive housing.
Counties bear large hidden costs for individuals with disabilities who are indigent or homeless. This includes costs for health care, jails and probation in addition to readily identifiable county costs for public assistance. A large share of this cost is health related – costs that the federal and state governments would pay through Medi-Cal if the individuals were receiving Supplemental Social Security Income (SSI).
A comprehensive strategy with 25 actions, accountable agencies, timelines, and performance benchmarks to prevent and end homelessness in Los Angeles County. From 2002 through 2004 the Economic Roundtable and the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center carried out research, listened to ideas from community stakeholders, and met with public officials in order to prepare this strategic plan for ending homelessness in Los Angeles County.