The Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) announced a new strategy to reduce unsheltered homelessness in
Los Angeles County over the next three years. To achieve that goal, LAHSA is working with its partners to accelerate people’s movement from shelter to permanent housing and continuously place unsheltered people experiencing homelessness in the newly available shelter beds.
“During the pandemic, LAHSA and our system partners moved more people inside faster than ever before. Now our region has to take note of how we rose to that challenge and keep rising to it every day,” said Molly Rysman, acting co-executive director of LAHSA. “By changing how we address homelessness, we will permanently house more people, do so faster, and get more of our unsheltered neighbors off the street and on a path to permanent housing.”
“This shift results from LAHSA taking the lessons we’ve learned in the past few years working to get our unhoused neighbors off the streets and into housing faster,” said Kristina Dixon, acting co-executive director of LAHSA. “There are still limitations in permanent housing availability that are out of our hands – we still need more affordable housing – but LAHSA is working to remove every barrier we possibly can.”
LAHSA is pivoting its strategy after two years of evaluating how it addresses homelessness for the unhoused in Los Angeles County. Providers, elected officials, government partners, and people with lived experience all participated in the LAHSA-led audit.
To achieve the goal of reducing unsheltered homelessness, LAHSA and its partners will make three changes to the rehousing system to move people from shelter to a permanent home faster than the current process: updating the matching policy, prioritizing the use of time-limited subsidies, and redesigning housing navigation.
In coordination with the Coordinated Entry System Policy Council, LAHSA plans to implement a new matching policy to allow other factors, such as document readiness, in addition to acuity to determine eligibility for matching an unhoused person to a permanent supportive housing unit. This change will make more people eligible for permanent supportive housing.
LAHSA will use time-limited subsidies – temporary rental assistance and services that help people sustain stable housing for a predefined period – as the core program to connect people to permanent housing faster. During the pandemic, LAHSA used time-limited subsidies to house over 1500 households, including those living in interim housing programs such as Project Roomkey.
LAHSA is also redesigning its housing navigation program to focus on helping people living in interim housing secure critical documents like IDs and Social Security cards to move people into a permanent home faster.
While LAHSA is actively making changes to improve how it addresses homelessness, the agency highlighted that its government partners must do more to prevent more people from falling into homelessness and build more affordable housing.
“Our social safety net is broken,” continued Rysman. “Our society must improve our correctional, foster care, and welfare systems to ensure that the people who depend on them do not fall into homelessness. In addition, we need about 500,000 units of affordable housing to end homelessness and ensure that low-income households don’t fall into homelessness.”