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LA Controller to LA Housing: ‘Create Data-Driven Strategy to Reshape Homeless Outreach’

VOICES-- L.A. Controller Ron Galperin released a report today on the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s (LAHSA) City outreach program, calling for a proactive, data-driven strategy to reach the homeless population more effectively and better connect them to housing and services.

A City-County joint powers authority, LAHSA is responsible for overseeing resource coordination and management for the region’s 54,000+ homeless individuals, collecting data on homelessness and conducting street outreach. The City has spent $10.3 million over the past two years to support LAHSA’s outreach efforts. Last year, homelessness in Los Angeles jumped 16 percent. (Photo above: LA Controller Ron Galperin.) 

“If the City wants to make real progress on homelessness, it has to take a sober look at the programs it’s funding and come up with more strategic ways to achieve its goals,” said Controller Galperin. “My report shows that a better plan to reach out to the City’s homeless population is needed. LAHSA is spending far too much time reacting to complaints and contacting far too few people as a result. By implementing a data-driven approach, LAHSA will be able to engage in proactive outreach and get more people off the streets and into shelters and homes.” 

Called “Strategy on the Streets,” Galperin’s report lays out how the City of Los Angeles can work with LAHSA to implement a successful outreach strategy with clear goals and measurable results. The report found that LAHSA’s current outreach is both limited in scope and reactive, with two-thirds of its efforts directed toward responding to homeless encampment complaints. He also determined that LAHSA is falling short on the majority of its core outreach goals, including placing the homeless into permanent housing, connecting them with bridge housing, and helping those with mental health and substance abuse issues. And the few goals it did achieve reveal only minor progress. 

Out of 36,000 homeless individuals in the City of Los Angeles, LAHSA reported these numbers for 2018-19:  

  • Contacting 6,634 homeless people. (18% of the City’s homeless population)
  • Linking 167 people to permanent housing. 
  • Placing 598 people into bridge housing.
  • Connecting 56 people with mental health needs to treatment. 
  • Connecting 39 people with a substance abuse problem to treatment. 

From reactive to proactive 

Instead of remaining reactive, Galperin recommends creating HomeSTAT, a data-driven system similar to those used by public safety and social service agencies across the country. HomeSTAT would reshape homeless outreach in L.A. by enabling LAHSA to collect real-time data and use it to evaluate performance and make informed decisions about resource allocation moving forward. While City departments collect data on homeless encampments and a variety of other things, there is currently no data-driven program to inform proactive outreach decisionmaking for LAHSA.  

Adopting a data-driven outreach system will help LAHSA achieve the additional recommendations in Galperin’s report, which include shifting to a more proactive outreach strategy, and getting the City, County and LAHSA to work together to define a clear and consistent set of outreach goals, specific metrics and accurate reporting methods. 

 

(Ron Galperin is Los Angeles controller.)

-cw

 

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