Cover: Identifying Policy and Research Gaps in Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles

Identifying Policy and Research Gaps in Addressing Homelessness in Los Angeles

Conference Proceedings

Published Mar 25, 2024

by Louis Abramson, Sarah B. Hunter, Jason M. Ward

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Reducing homelessness requires a social services system to consistently accomplish at least three tasks: identify and engage people experiencing homelessness, connect them to housing, and provide them with appropriate posthousing support so they do not reenter homelessness. Los Angeles (L.A.) County performs these tasks, but—despite unprecedented political and financial investment in all aspects of the mission—this work has not manifested in a quantitative reduction in homelessness. Indeed, since 2018—the year voters passed a $4 billion bond initiative dedicated to funding homeless services—the county’s annual homelessness census has risen by an average of 10 percent each year.

To help explore the disconnect between homelessness and housing service provision in L.A., the RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness brought together practitioner experts from across L.A. County’s homelessness and housing services community in November 2023 to discuss policy and research gaps and potential solutions. The symposium sought to address the following question: What policy and research gaps are limiting the measurable impact of L.A. County’s (1) homeless outreach, (2) housing placement and retention, and (3) housing production systems?

Each topic was considered in turn during three 90-minute panel discussions. This document summarizes the content of those discussions, focusing on the challenges facing each of the above systems and the research and policy next steps needed to address them.

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This research was conducted in the Community Health and Environmental Policy Program within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being.

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