We have one goal—end homelessness in Los Angeles County.
We know it sounds ambitious, but we also know exactly what it’ll take to make it happen. Never before have so many people been so focused on one goal. And thanks to Measure H and Proposition HHH—which passed with overwhelming voter support—we have, for the first time, real and dedicated funding aligned with proven programs to solve this crisis.
What you’ll read below is a 10-year comprehensive plan, built upon six key strategies to tackle this crisis right now. The plan takes into account the many challenges in L.A. that have contributed to the homelessness crisis—the high rent, the lack of access to supportive social services, the lack of a real safety net, the shortage of available housing, the job insecurity.
The next 10 years will be key, but we have also set shorter-term goals so we can be focused on achieving progress every step of the way. This is how we’re going to do it together, one year at a time.
Create a coordinated system
In order to end homelessness, we all need to work together. For too many years those working to end homelessness did so separately and were unable to easily share information or resources. Now we’re already seeing the benefits of a more coordinated approach in the outreach efforts. Outreach teams, working together, are spread out across Los Angeles County, engaging people living on the streets and connecting them to the services and housing they need. Many of the teams consist of a healthcare worker, substance abuse counselor, mental health advisor, and someone who has experienced homelessness themselves.
At United Way L.A., we led the early efforts to create a coordinated system to break down bureaucratic barriers and match people to the support they need. For example, the coordinated system assesses a homeless person’s needs and then provides services and/or housing accordingly. This ensures that resources and time are being spent efficiently and that those experiencing homelessness receive the help that is the most effective for their situation. This system is now operating across Los Angeles County.
Thanks to the new voter-approved funds from H and HHH, prevention services have been expanded to include, for the first time, individuals facing eviction.
More and more people fall into homelessness in Los Angeles each year—with a 23% increase in the last year alone. We not only need to find homes for those who are currently homeless, but prevent people from losing their homes in the first place by providing rental assistance and legal services. Only families and veterans were previously eligible to receive these services. That shut out a large portion of the population, so thanks to the new voter-approved funds from H and HHH, prevention services have been expanded to include, for the first time, individuals facing eviction.
Subsidize housing costs
A critical step in preventing chronic homelessness is shortening the length of time someone goes without a home. One way to do that is through rapid re-housing: giving support to those who lost their homes with the goal of moving them into permanent housing as quickly as possible.
This involves helping people experiencing homelessness find appropriate rental housing, providing them with financial assistance for rent and other costs associated with moving (security deposits, rental applications), and offering services such as job training, life skills training, and child care. The rental assistance begins at a nearly 100% level and then reduces to zero over a period of time, during which the person regains their stability and secures their own income.
Build housing that is affordable
To help homeless individuals move into subsidized housing, we need to make sure there is enough housing to begin with. Developing more affordable housing units doesn’t just help homeless families and individuals make the transition into homes, it makes it easier for them to stay there after the rental assistance ends. As a region, we have been building about 20,000 units of affordable housing a year over the last 30 years, but L.A. should have been building more than 55,000 units a year to keep pace with growth. This disparity is partly fueling the homelessness crisis that we are experiencing now.
This process needs to be more efficient. That’s why we’re also finding innovative ways to build affordable housing units faster and in more cost-effective ways all across L.A. County.
We will be a consistent and strong voice in the fight for more housing that people can afford.
Increasing income prevents people from falling into homelessness and helps those who are already homeless regain housing faster. To achieve this, community-based organizations across the county have expanded training programs, employment opportunities, and support services to homeless individuals. These programs work together to ensure that homeless individuals are able to secure jobs that provide enough income to afford a roof over their head.
Build supportive housing for the most vulnerable
Supportive housing has a success rate of 90%, meaning that almost all of the people who receive supportive housing stay in it and stay off the street. Even better? It’s about half the cost of leaving people on the streets.
Supportive housing is offered to those who need it the most—those who are experiencing long-term homelessness and/or have physical/mental health or substance abuse disorders. And it works! Supportive housing has a success rate of 90%, meaning that almost all of the people who receive supportive housing stay in it. Even better? It’s about half the cost of leaving people on the streets.
Part of supportive housing’s success is due to the fact that this kind of housing offers comprehensive on-site services, including mental health treatment, substance use counseling, and support groups.
Our goal is to approve at least 1,000 supportive housing units a year, a total of 10,000 units in the next 10 years. Because these buildings take two to three years to open, we need to create shorter-term crisis housing now, to help people come off of the streets quickly.
The plan summary above combines both the County and City of Los Angeles’ efforts. To read more about each, click here for the County and here for the City.