Experience proves there’s no one-size-fits all solution to housing. So in 2011, a coordinated system was developed to ensure that housing solutions fit individuals’ needs. This system is now used across the county by 347 homeless service providers, including LA Family Housing, PATH, Safe Place for Youth, and more. As a result, United Way has helped provide housing to more than 50,000 people experiencing homelessness.
Outreach and engagement teams serve two important functions: first, they make it easier for people who are experiencing homelessness to show what they’re going through so outreach teams can connect them to programs and housing that work best for them. Second, they also provide services where they’re needed: out in the streets.
These specialized teams consist of healthcare workers, mental health clinicians, substance abuse experts and, critically, people who have experienced homelessness. The model is relatively new but has already been called one of the most successful strategies in addressing homelessness, having so far connected with more than 4,000 people.
The best way to end homelessness is to stop it from happening in the first place and the most effective way to do that is with rental assistance for individuals and families on the verge of losing their homes.
L.A. is the most expensive city in America, based on cost of living and average income.
L.A. is the most expensive city in America, based on cost of living and average income. We spend an average of 47% of our income on rent—more than anywhere else—and that figure has gone up quickly. As a result, many families are being displaced and some are forced to live in their cars or on the streets.
These are community members and neighbors who work hard and want to contribute but are up against harsh economic forces that they can’t control. For someone who makes minimum wage, even a traffic ticket can be devastating.
So far, over 7,710 families have been helped—many who were walking this thin line between having a home and living on the streets—with rent payments and financial obligation assistance. It’s a simple, no-nonsense solution that worked for years for veterans and families before Measure H expanded the program to individuals.
It’s important to know that financial assistance of this kind is always tied to more comprehensive efforts to keep people in their homes. The combination of rental subsidies and services can go a long way and ultimately save taxpayers a lot of money.
For people who experience long-term homelessness or struggle with physical or mental illness, the best solution is supportive housing. “Supportive” means that these buildings provide on-site services like addiction counseling and health treatments. This type of housing is more than 90% successful at keeping people housed and costs about half as much as leaving people on the streets.
75% of homeless people who are living on the streets are doing so in the neighborhoods they lived in before they lost their homes.
For many years, L.A. lacked the resources to build supportive housing. Thanks to voters, that’s no longer an issue. But there are still obstacles. There are some who are afraid that supportive housing will attract homeless people to their neighborhoods and they’ve put pressure on elected officials to resist construction of homes. Reality is that 70% of homeless people who are living on the streets are doing so in the neighborhoods they lived in before they lost their homes.
It will take community engagement, political will, and a strong collective commitment throughout the many diverse neighborhoods in L.A. to get this done, but we have already secured approval for 2,188 units of supportive housing since July 2017, and we are just getting started. And you can help us push for even more-tell your elected leader you support supportive housing here.
By 2022, L.A. County and this campaign plan to help 45,000 people move into various types of homes—from supportive housing to affordable rentals. This goal targets the entire homeless population, not just the most vulnerable people or those experiencing chronic homelessness. Not all homeless people require mental health or addiction support—many are productive, independent people who have simply fallen on hard times.
To see how we’re going to do this, check out our plan here. All we need is your support.
The most effective way to end homelessness is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Thanks to Measure H funding, L.A. is, for the first time, investing in homelessness prevention strategies not only for families, but for individuals too. These strategies include rental assistance, which helps people pay their rent while they get back on their feet, instead of getting evicted.
Supportive housing gives homeless people safe, stable living spaces with comprehensive on-site services, like mental health care and addiction counseling. It has a 90% success rate. This type of housing usually benefits chronically homeless people: those with disabling conditions (mental or general health issues that hinder someone’s ability to live independently) who have been homeless for a year or more, or who have experienced homelessness four or more times in the past three years for a total time of at least one year.
The goal is to approve 5,000 supportive housing units across the L.A. County by 2022. Everyone must do their part. The City of Los Angeles has set a goal of approving 3,330 units divided evenly across the council districts. The County continues to increase its investment in supportive housing construction and the 87 other cities must do the same.
And even at this early stage, we’re already well on our way.