LA County Homeless Services System Lifted 70,000 People Out of Homelessness in 4 Years

An independent analysis attributed much of that progress to Measure H and the strategies of the LA County Homeless Initiative 

Los Angeles County’s homeless services system, dramatically expanded and enhanced by Measure H and other investments, helped 72,815 people exit homelessness into permanent housing and placed 85,734 people into interim housing over a span of fouryears, according to a recently released independent report by Public Sector Analytics.

The report directly attributed 42 percent of those permanent housing placements and 60 percent of those interim housing placements to strategies developed and overseen by the LA County Homeless Initiative and funded in whole or in part by Measure H, a quarter-cent sales tax dedicated to preventing and combating homelessness.

Created by the Board of Supervisors in August 2015, the Homeless Initiative announced its initial set of strategies in February 2016, initially funded by a one-time allocation of $100 million. Voters approved Measure H about a year later, in March2017, though its projected $355-million annual revenue stream did not start until October 2017. The Homeless Initiative includes many LA County departments, City governments, nonprofit homeless service providers and other partners who work together to implement strategies with Measure H funding.

“Measure H has demonstrated that when we come together, bridging government and community, we can achieve powerful results,” shared LA County Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda L. Solis. “We have made great strides in the last few years and have placed more people in interim and permanent housing than ever before – all thanks to the voters’ support of Measure H. We must continue to build upon this progress by developing innovative solutions that meet this moment and address the core issues of what have driven this crisis – racial disparities, pay inequities, and a lack of affordable housing. We still have work to do, but I am confident that we are moving forward inthe right direction.”

“I applaud the work of our County team and community partners that together, through our LA County rehousing programs, have helped over 22,000 people move into a permanent home,” Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell said. “While we celebrate, it is also hard to see our progress when we step outside. While we house 207 people each day inthe County, 227 fall into homelessness. We have to balance our resources between helping those on the street and preventing those who are at risk of ending up there. I am more committed and optimistic than ever before that we will end this crisis together.”

“This report demonstrates that, when we have the will and the resources, the County and our partners are capable of moving tens of thousands of people from homelessness to housing,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “Sadly, it is also a reminder that our homelessness crisis has its roots in an affordable housing crisis, and, if we want to end homelessness, we must find ways to preserve our existing affordable housing, assist renters who are struggling to cover their rent each month, and build more affordable apartments more quickly.”

“Tens of thousands of people are off of the streets and are building new lives forthemselves thanks to the voters who passed Measure H, the taxpayers who have paid the quarter cent sales tax, and the service providers who work to move heaven and earth every day to connect people with housing,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who coauthored the motion to place Measure H on the March 2017 ballot. “We have a long road ahead of us, but the progress we are making was made possible by the voters.”

“I am grateful to our many service providers and community organizations for their tireless work serving people experiencing homelessness,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “We continue to explore new opportunities to collaborate with our partners and stakeholders to enhance our ability to serve our most vulnerable residents through improved mental health services and other supportive programs, and through permanent housing projects in each of our service areas.”

The Public Sector Analytics report is an annual performance evaluation of the Homeless Initiative, authored by Professors Halil Toros, Dennis Culhane and Stephen Metraux. Data from the first year of their study predated the passage of Measure H. The fourth year did not include data beyond the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year that ended in June 2020, and so covers only the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report noted that annual Homeless Initiative permanent housing placements have increased by roughly 115 percent, from 4,583 in the first year to 9,857 in the fourth year. Meanwhile, the 14,804 Homeless Initiative interim housing placements recorded in the fourth year represent a 90 percent increase from the first year.

When accounting for the impact of Measure H, the report tallied a cumulative total of 25,050 Measure H-funded permanent housing placements over the three-year period since the revenue stream began, accounting for 44.5 percent of total permanent housing placements across the system during that period. Meanwhile, it tallied 46,407 Measure H-funded interim housing placements, or 66 percent of the total since the revenue stream began.

“Measure H has been a game-changer, driving an unprecedented expansion in LA County’s homeless services system while focusing on proven strategies for providing housing, shelter and supportive services,” Homeless Initiative director Phil Ansell said. “Thanks to this investment by taxpayers, we literally have thousands of people and hundreds of organizations working every day to help our unhoused neighbors find a home. There’s still a long road ahead, but we are making progress.”

Despite the gains made by the homeless services system, LA County still has a shortage of 517,000 affordable housing units and more than 550,000 severely rent-burdened households who spend more than half of their income on housing, partly because wages have not kept pace with rents. A worker needs to earn $41.96 per hour — almost triple the minimum wage in the City of Los Angeles — to afford the average monthly asking rent of $2,182. Systemic racism and the economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic pose additional challenges.

Still, the report said the “Homeless Initiative continues to show progress in the placement of people experiencing homelessness in permanent housing” and welcomed the expected opening of thousands of permanent supportive housing units over the next few years.

Read the Full Report: LA County’s Homeless Initiative Annual Performance Evaluation – Year Four Outcomes