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Los Angeles Outreach Teams Bring Thousands of People Inside Within Six Months
Homeless Rehousing agency continues to call for a more significant investment in housing to grow the success of its outreach efforts.
LOS ANGELES – Today, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) announced that outreach teams across the Los Angeles Continuum of Care brought 5,312 unsheltered individuals inside and ended homelessness for an additional 472 people in the first half of 2021.
During the same period, the homeless rehousing system’s 240 outreach teams contacted 22,152 people 62,089 times. During those interactions, outreach teams built trust and rapport with people experiencing unsheltered homelessness by offering small items to help meet their needs, including hygiene kits, bottled water, and food.
Those interactions helped outreach teams successfully start 15,208 people on the path to permanent housing through assessments or beginning case management services.
“Outreach is a critical part of the homeless rehousing system that we’ve built since the implementation of Measure H in 2017. From 2015-2020, the annual number of contacts our outreach teams made has increased by 296%,” said Heidi Marston, Executive Director of LAHSA. “There is no doubt that our outreach teams’ efforts have significantly contributed to ending homelessness for the more than 65,000 people our system has housed over the last three years.”
This data reflects the Los Angeles Continuum of Care’s outreach efforts from January to mid-May 2021 as recorded in LAHSA’s Homeless Management Information System. The data contained in HMIS accounts for about 80% of the efforts to address homelessness in Los Angeles County and does not include data from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs or the cities of Long Beach, Glendale, and Pasadena.
Despite this success, LAHSA is continuously developing ways to improve the effectiveness of its outreach teams. Last month, LAHSA released its “Best Practices for Addressing Street Encampments” report, which offers guidance to LAHSA’s nonprofit partners on balancing the need for location-specific work on unsheltered homelessness with the importance of a regional, trauma-informed approach to unsheltered homelessness that effectively moves people from an encampment into shelter or housing in a lasting, sustainable way.
One of the key principles of LAHSA’s Best Practices for Addressing Street Encampments is to provide adequate, appropriate, and low-barrier resources to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. That includes securing enough shelter, permanent housing, and affordable housing to create a balanced rehousing system.
During last month’s Housing Inventory Count briefing, LAHSA revealed that a balanced rehousing system contains five permanent housing placements for every shelter bed. However, the Los Angeles system has a ratio closer to one-to-one. The agency called upon its government partners to make a more significant investment in permanent housing for unsheltered individuals.
“It is critical that our region continues to add to our housing and shelter supply. We need more strategic investments that create low-barrier and private shelter options in areas of the county where the need is greatest. But shelter without a permanent housing option leaves people stuck. Thanks to Prop. HHH, there are nearly 13,000 permanent housing units on the way, but we need thousands more to solve our region’s housing crisis,” Marston added during the briefing.
About The Homeless Rehousing System’s Outreach Teams
More than 850 people in 240 teams across several government agencies and dozens of nonprofits conduct outreach in the Los Angeles Continuum of Care. The County’s Department of Health Services Housing for Health unit utilizes Measure H to fund 70 multi-disciplinary teams specializing in mental health, substance abuse, and emergency response. The Department of Mental Health’s HOME teams work with the gravely disabled.
LAHSA deploys 93 Homeless Engagement Teams (HET) across Los Angeles County. LAHSA outreach teams come from diverse backgrounds reflecting the populations they serve, including many staff with lived experience, 35% of outreach staff are black, and 49% are Hispanic. Outreach staff are deeply mission-driven men and women who work on the frontlines of homelessness every day to help our unhoused neighbors get on a path home.