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.
Communities in Los Angeles County have a new set of tools for land use decisions and development policies that decrease greenhouse gas emissions and improve workers’ wages. A report by the Economic Roundtable, Industry Greenhouse Gas and Wage Sustainability, identifies the climate change effects as well as the wage sustainability of jobs in each industry.
America has lost ground on the intent declared by Congress when the Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted in 1938, that workers will receive wages sufficient to maintain "the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency, and general well-being." The federal minimum wage had the greatest value in 1968. Set at $1.60 an hour, it had a value of $10.51 in 2012 dollars. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 is worth 31 percent less. This wage attrition is part of most people's everyday experience. Three-quarters of the full-time labor force residing in the City of Los Angeles earn less than comparable workers 30 years ago.
The nation is drawing down thousands of troops from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, where they have served the country in difficult, complex and dangerous circumstances. Finding pathways to sustaining employment during a prolonged recession is proving difficult for many post-9/2001 veterans. The skill, purpose and dedication that veterans demonstrated in serving this country at a minimum earns them the right to a fair shot at a job in the civilian labor force.
Unemployment and underemployment currently represent $25.8 billion in annual wages not earned in Los Angeles County, $28.2 billion in lost private sector economic activity and $4 billion in tax revenue not generated. Over a fifth of Los Angeles County’s labor force is unemployed or underemployed. Over a third of the county’s population lives in a household where one or more breadwinners are under-employed.
Inadequate housing takes different forms, all of which are detrimental to the well-being of families and individuals. The most prevalent problem is housing that costs more than households can afford to pay. The causes include a housing inventory that has grown slightly less than the population and renter incomes that have increased much less than the cost of housing.
At the peak of California’s most recent drought in 2009, the Los Angeles economy was in severe recession, with unemployment above 12 percent. These twin crises identified a policy opportunity to tackle both challenges together. Public investments in water use efficiency provide economic and job benefits alongside the environmental benefits from using less water.
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.
The central question investigated in this study is the public costs for people in supportive housing compared to similar people that are homeless. The typical public cost for residents in supportive housing is $605 a month. The typical public cost for similar homeless persons is $2,897, five-times greater than their counterparts that are housed. This remarkable finding demonstrates that practical, tangible public benefits result from providing supportive housing for vulnerable homeless individuals. The stabilizing effect of housing plus supportive care is demonstrated by a 79 percent reduction in public costs for these residents.
Severe overcrowding in Los Angeles rental housing fell 63 percent from 2000 to 2007, the most recent year for which data is available. Only 9 percent of renters are severely overcrowded, with 1.5 or more occupants per room. The bad news is that 58 percent of renters are rent-burdened, paying 30 percent or more of their income for rent.
The most concrete characteristic of a recession is that demand disappears for some of the commodities produced by workers and unwanted unemployment is imposed on a large segment of the labor force. With growing job losses in the current recession it is important to know, whose boat falls when the economic tide recedes?
A budget for providing basic family necessities in Los Angeles calls for an annual income of $49,135 for one parent with two children and $54,078 for two parents with two children. The income for providing basic family necessities is about two and a half times greater than the poverty threshold.
Most people agree that union jobs typically pay better than nonunion jobs. But what is not as widely discussed is the role unions play in stimulating the broader economy. A recent study by my organization, the Economic Roundtable, found that union workers in Los Angeles County earn an average of 27 percent more than nonunion workers in the same job, a figure that does not include differences in other types of compensation like health insurance.
Poverty adversely affects the lives of Los Angeles residents as well as the City as a whole. Among other things, poverty has a direct financial impact on local government because of above-average per capita costs for municipal services related to police and fire protection, courts, education, and other services in poor neighborhoods.
Union members make up roughly 15 percent of LA’s labor force. The economic context for unions in Los Angeles is a formal labor market that has been stagnant since 1990, with all net job growth occurring in the informal economy. More than a quarter of the labor force is impoverished.
There are at least three reasons why it has become important for Los Angeles to exert purposeful influence on its own economic trajectory: The population has grown steadily but the number of jobs in the formal economy, where employers comply with labor law, is still below the level of 1990.
We estimate that $1.1 billion in economic impacts generated by city purchases occur outside of Los Angeles County. There are opportunities to implement import substitution strategies to increase Los Angeles’ share of beneficial economic impacts from city purchases. Import substitution strategies will be most beneficial if they help build growth momentum for industries that are beneficial to Los Angeles.
We all have a stake in helping children and youth whose lives have been disrupted by lack of safe, permanent and adequate housing to achieve success in learning, growing and maturing. Beyond ensuring school enrollment and attendance this stake also includes working with others to help homeless children and families meet basic survival needs and overcome the trauma of homelessness.