Inflow into homeless and chronic homelessness continues to be a significant concern in Los Angeles County. While chronic homelessness across the County decreased by 18 percent between January 2017 and January 2018, LAHSA reports an increase in people who are experiencing homelessness for the first time.33 Significant investments have been made to create more housing opportunities and provide wrap-around supportive services for people experiencing homelessness, but until these efforts are actualized on-the-ground across the County the risk of people who are newly homeless becoming chronically homeless grows.
New investments have been made in research and efforts to understand the inflow into homelessness and chronic homeless. Programs that have been piloted over the past five years are now being scaled up with private and public dollars. During 2017, Los Angeles community leaders increased efforts to engage individuals experiencing homelessness and assess their needs in order to link them to available resources. Outreach and engagement across the County has grown rapidly. As a result, both City and County officials are working on efforts to expand emergency shelters, bridge housing, and interim housing to help transition individuals from the streets while they wait for PSH.
Many of these community responses have been created in response to acute crises – such as a Hepatitis A outbreak in late 2017. Current pilot programs, outreach efforts, and sanitation programs are a start in addressing the critical needs of the unsheltered population but are not yet significant enough to ensure basic human health, safety, and dignity at the scale needed in Los Angeles. Additionally, as the City works quickly to expand access to interim housing and emergency shelter, there is a risk that focus could be diverted from permanent housing solutions.