A Discussion of Recent Trends Among the Unsheltered in Los Angeles

A Lamborghini outside of a tent in Venice, California, photo by Jason Ward/RAND Corporation

Photo by Jason Ward/RAND Corporation

Event Details


Thursday, April 27


Noon to 1 p.m. PDT / 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT

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Details on attending the event will be sent to registered attendees.


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Homelessness is a key policy concern in Los Angeles. However, there is a lack of accurate data about the dynamics and characteristics of the unsheltered population. To better inform the development of effective policy to address homelessness, RAND conducted a year-long study of the number of people living unsheltered in Hollywood, Skid Row, and Venice starting in fall 2021. RAND also collected survey data from people living unsheltered in these neighborhoods to provide information about individual housing needs, experiences, and preferences.

In this remote conversation, RAND experts Jason Ward, Rick Garvey, and Sarah Hunter will discuss findings from their latest report that includes results from a year-long enumeration effort and surveys with over 400 individuals. The talk will be moderated by Nichole Fiore from Abt Associates.


Jason M. Ward

Jason Ward is an economist at the RAND Corporation, associate director of the RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles, and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. His work uses the tools of applied microeconomics to study housing and homelessness policy, labor markets, education, health, and links between these domains. His research in the areas of housing and homelessness includes a study assessing the potential for the adaptive reuse of commercial real estate to address the housing crisis in Los Angeles, a study estimating the causal effects of restrictive labor agreements on the production of affordable housing, and an ongoing longitudinal study generating estimates of the size of populations of unsheltered Angelenos in Los Angeles and collecting evidence on the housing needs of this population. Other research has included assessing long-term trends in education gaps between military veterans and non-veterans, estimating the effect of four-day school weeks on child educational achievement, studying the nature of geographic variation in health care utilization, and quantifying the association between education and health over the life course. Current projects include a study of the adequacy of the Basic Allowance for Housing for Army servicemembers and their families, and a study highlighting policy reforms that can increase housing production and affordability in New York City.

Rick Garvey

Rick Garvey

Rick Garvey, is a senior survey coordinator at the RAND Corporation. He has over 23 years of data collection experience. At RAND, he has been involved in planning and coordinating both small- and large-scale data collection projects in areas of HIV and hepatitis, homelessness, veterans’ health, criminal justice, adolescent drug use, drug treatment, welfare reform, and surviving trauma. His expertise lies in design and implementation of complex field data collection efforts. Garvey has worked closely with homeless, mental health, juvenile justice, and social service agencies to establish cooperation and negotiate data collection in such settings. Since joining RAND in 2000, Garvey has managed data collection for the Adolescent Outcomes Project, a longitudinal study of adolescent probationers in Los Angeles County. Garvey managed data collection for the NIDA Homeless Hepatitis project which interviewed and provided hepatitis and HIV testing and referrals to homeless individuals in the Skid Row area of Los Angeles. He managed data collection for the longitudinal BRIGHT and BRIGHT 2 projects, investigating the effects of a cognitive behavioral therapy intervention at inpatient and outpatient drug treatment programs in Los Angeles County. Currently, he is managing the AWARE project, a longitudinal study of homeless youth in Hollywood and Venice with four follow-up waves of data collection over three years; a qualitative project in conjunction with the VA and USC working with homeless veterans in Los Angeles County; and conducting surveys and enumeration of homeless encampments in Skid Row, Hollywood, and Venice for the LA LEADS project.

Sarah B. Hunter

Sarah B. Hunter (she/her) is a senior behavioral scientist, professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and director of the RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles (CHHLA). Over a decade ago, Sarah started working in the field of supportive housing. Since that time, she has led numerous studies documenting the impact of supportive housing on service use and associated costs, including initiatives in Los Angeles County (i.e., Housing for Health and Just in Reach Pay for Success) and beyond (e.g., in the Inland Empire and Pima County, AZ). She has also studied programs that provide rapid-re-housing and employment supports for people involved in the justice system. She recently co-led a longitudinal study of veterans experiencing homelessness in West Los Angeles to better understand service utilization and barriers to housing stability. She currently helps direct several of the Center projects, including research to better understand the needs and preferences of transitional aged youth and unsheltered adults experiencing homelessness. Hunter is active in the Homelessness Policy Research Institute, a joint effort by University of Southern California, United Way Greater LA, and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Hunter received her B.A. from New York University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Barbara.


Nichole Fiore

Nichole Fiore

Nichole Fiore is a senior associate at Abt Associates with over a decade of experience evaluating housing and homelessness programs across the country, developing deep expertise on homeless service system alignment and coordination, organizational capacity, political and community will, unsheltered homelessness, and permanent supportive housing. During her time at Abt, Fiore has successfully managed complex multimethod research projects, including the state of California’s Homeless System Landscape Assessment, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Chronic Homelessness Initiative Evaluation, the California Community Foundation’s Accelerating Permanent Supportive Housing Evaluation, LAHSA’s Transitional Housing for Youth Evaluation, and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Investigating Housing Models for Accelerating PSH Production Evaluation. She has also contributed to HUD’s Family Options Study, the HHS/HUD Study of Homeless Encampments, and HUD’s Homelessness Prevention Study. Her skills include: collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data; analyzing system alignment and coordination; working with diverse stakeholders to plan and execute evaluations; and conducting site visits, focus groups, and interviews. Prior to joining Abt, Fiore worked on training and technical assistance issues for a homeless families’ provider and worked on street outreach teams providing resources and information to homeless and at-risk youth. Fiore holds an M.A. in economics from Fordham University.