RAND finds homelessness up 18% in 3 of LA’s high-priority areas
The unhoused population in three of Los Angeles’ high-priority neighborhoods has increased by an average of 18%, according to a yearlong count conducted by the RAND Corp., which released results Thursday.
The Los Angeles Longitudinal Enumeration and Demographic Survey — which focused on Hollywood, Skid Row and Venice — took place from September 2021 to October 2022 and is separate from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority’s annual tally. LAHSA is conducting its 2023 count this week and expects to have results by the spring or summer.
The report found an increase in homelessness of 32% in Venice, 14.5% in Hollywood and 13% on Skid Row.
Jason Ward, the lead author and associate economist at RAND, said the count determined “that there is a lot to be learned by measuring progress on homelessness more regularly than the once-a-year count of unsheltered people conducted by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.”
Researchers also surveyed 400 unhoused people during the first six months. Of those individuals, nearly 80% said they were “continuously homeless” for over a year and 57% for more than three years.
Nine out of 10 respondents were interested in housing, and 29% were on wait lists.
According to RAND, the study is the largest count of unhoused people in Los Angeles outside of LAHSA’s tally. RAND researchers said that though the methodology was different, the survey’s results found a 15% increase in homelessness in the targeted areas compared to LAHSA’s last count in January 2022.
LAHSA’s 2022 count revealed 41,980 unhoused people in the city of Los Angeles, up 1.7% from 2020. In the county, there were 69,144 unhoused people, an increase of 4.1%.
Last year’s count was followed by criticism from some officials, including members of the City Council, who pointed to issues with accessing data related to the count and inconsistencies in communication between the agency and council districts. Some council members called for a third-party count of Los Angeles’ unhoused population and a multi-year audit of authority’s previous counts.
In response, LAHSA announced changes for this year’s count that include using a new app, and ensuring that those counting have access to paper maps and tally sheets for counts if there are issues with connecting to the internet. Agency officials said earlier this month they also plan to hire a demographer and two data scientists for data analysis.
The RAND count determined some variation in unhoused people in the neighborhoods studied from month-to-month, with changes as high as 24%. Researchers attributed certain declines to city-authorized cleanups of encampments, but noted that the numbers came back up quickly.
Among the individuals surveyed, the most common answers for why unhoused people were not living in housing included never being contacted, privacy and safety concerns and issues with paperwork.