The LA CoC has an estimated 43,854 homeless people (LA CoC excludes the cities of Glendale, Pasadena and Long Beach). Los Angeles is the largest urban county in the nation at 4,083 square miles. While in some areas average incomes are amongst the highest in the country, there is also incredible poverty. Furthermore, Los Angeles is one of the most racially diverse and ethnically varied counties in the U.S. The political landscape is equally complex as the LACoC includes 85 separate cities. Many of these cities, including the City of Los Angeles are further divided into council districts. All cities and unincorporated areas are overlaid by one of five County Supervisorial Districts. To ensure local control and planning, LAHSA has divided the County into eight geographic areas designated as Service Planning Areas (SPA’s). Each SPA is expected to have a balance of homeless services. LAHSA helps coordinate efforts among agencies, businesses, community leaders, government agencies and elected officials to determine priority needs and services from a local, regional and county-wide basis.
Continuum of Care is a term that serves dual purposes in the arena of homeless service delivery:
Service Delivery System
A Continuum of Care is an integrated system of care that guides and tracks homeless individuals & families through a comprehensive array of housing & services designed to prevent and end homelessness.
A Continuum of Care (CoC) is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals.
HUD requires communities to submit a single application for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants in order to streamline the funding application process, encourage coordination of housing and service providers on a local level and promote the development of Continuums of Care (CoCs). A lead agency is designated to coordinate and submit the annual application. LAHSA is the lead agency for the Los Angeles CoC.
According to HUD, a CoC is "a community plan to organize and deliver housing and services to meet the specific needs of people who are homeless as they move to stable housing and maximize self-sufficiency. It includes action steps to end homelessness and prevent a return to homelessness." HUD identifies four necessary parts of a continuum:
- Outreach, intake and assessment
- Emergency shelter
- Transitional housing with supportive services
- Permanent & permanent supportive housing with services if needed
CoC’s are responsible for managing and tracking the homeless systems of care in their community. One of the most important activities entrusted to CoC’s is the biannual count of the homeless population and an annual enumeration of emergency systems, transitional housing units and beds that make up the homeless assistance systems. These counts provide an overview of the state of homelessness in a CoC and offer the information necessary to redirect services, funding and resources as necessary.