Cover: Annual Trends Among the Unsheltered in Three Los Angeles Neighborhoods

Annual Trends Among the Unsheltered in Three Los Angeles Neighborhoods

The Los Angeles Longitudinal Enumeration and Demographic Survey (LA LEADS) 2023 Annual Report

Published Jul 2, 2024

by Jason M. Ward, Rick Garvey, Sarah B. Hunter

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Since fall 2021, the authors of this report have conducted regular enumerations of the unsheltered populations in three Los Angeles neighborhoods known for having high concentrations of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness: Hollywood, Skid Row, and Venice. In addition to counts, the authors have conducted surveys of unsheltered residents in these same neighborhoods to better understand the characteristics, experiences, and needs of these populations. The results of the first year of this study, known as the Los Angeles Longitudinal Enumeration and Demographic Survey (LA LEADS), were presented in a report published by RAND in 2023.

The authors continued their enumeration and survey efforts in these three neighborhoods throughout 2023 using an updated survey instrument that includes new questions about employment, income, experiences with service providers, health conditions, and substance use. This report presents their findings from the 2023 data collection period and includes comparisons with the previous year's effort and new information about unsheltered populations' experiences and needs across the same three Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Key Findings

  • On average, the number of unsheltered residents in these neighborhoods was stable across 2023, a notable change from late September 2021 through 2022, when the rate of growth was approximately 10 percent on an annual basis.
  • In areas that had substantial encampment resolution activities, temporary declines that lasted two to three months on average were observed in the unsheltered population. The share of unhoused people living literally unsheltered (without a tent or vehicle) in Venice increased from 20 percent to 46 percent, a change that corresponds with policy changes in the neighborhood regarding tent encampments.
  • More than one-half of survey respondents reported a chronic mental health condition, about one-half reported a chronic physical health condition, and about one-half reported a substance use disorder. Respondents in Skid Row were older and less healthy than respondents from the other two neighborhoods.
  • About one-half of survey respondents reported being on the streets for three years or longer. About two-thirds of respondents were actively looking for housing. Respondents in Venice were less likely to be actively looking for housing, had less time on the streets, and were less likely to have been last housed in California.
  • About one-half of survey respondents reported recent engagement with a homelessness outreach worker or case manager. Respondents in Hollywood had more-frequent contacts and higher reports of receiving assistance.
  • On average, 10 percent of survey respondents reported being employed; three-quarters had an income of less than $600 per month. People living in vehicles were more likely to be employed.

Research conducted by

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

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