Data and solutions: the new efforts behind solving homelessness.

Studying homelessness.

There is now hard data available to show the need. Previously, policymakers, advocates and elected officials have lacked data and visual tools to communicate the positive impacts that affordable housing developments would have in their communities. To address this need, the California Housing Partnership has created a new interactive tool: the Affordable Rental Housing Benefits Map.

The Benefits Map uses the California Housing Partnership’s Preservation Database – an inventory of federally subsidized affordable rental properties, many of which also receive State and local subsidies-to leverage the best available academic research to create evidence-based estimates of the social and economic benefits of affordable housing for individual residents and families, taxpayers, and the local economy.

The Benefits Map can be used to:

  • Display property-level information on specific affordable housing developments.
  • See quantitative estimates of social and economic benefits of affordable housing.
  • Generate reports on affordable housing’s impact in particular counties and legislative districts.

We invite you to explore the Affordable Rental Housing Benefits Map, and share it with your networks and on social media. We also welcome feedback and questions to help us improve the Map and its methodology for estimating social and economic benefits by here.

Can homelessness be “solved”?

If LA can do it…so can we!: Los Angeles County had more than 53,000 people experiencing homelessness at last count, the nation’s largest population of unsheltered homeless people by far. Nearly 40,000 of them were living on the streets, in their cars, or in makeshift camps, and the city spends millions of dollars every year on health care for them as they have nowhere to turn but a public emergency room.

Solving homelessness actually saves money: A recent RAND study shows that Los Angeles County has quietly succeeded in moving more than 3,500 of its most chronically homeless and vulnerable residents off the streets, and into permanent housing, where they can access health care and social services. Before entering the program, one person needed more than $1 million in public hospital services in the single year, another was 95 years old. The “Housing for Health” program, started in 2012, has been proven to work while saving taxpayers millions of dollars. “It makes a very compelling argument to say, ‘Look, if we provide housing and support, we can actually save money,‘” said Sarah Hunter, a senior behavioral scientist who led RAND’s evaluation of the program and has spent years working with service providers on Los Angeles’s Skid Row.

Housing for Health: By the Numbers

  • The program moved 3500 homeless people off the streets.
  • Out of 900 participants, 96% stayed in the program for at least a year
  • The county saved more than $6.5 million in the second year of the program
  • Program participants spent 75% less time in the hospital in the year after moving into supportive housing
  • The county saved $1.20 for every dollar spent
  • Program participants made 70% fewer visits to the ER

Where are we getting the money?

Governor Newsom has stated that our homelessness problem is a “crisis” and that “It is a stain on the state of California. This homeless issue is rightfully top of mind for people all across this state. They’re outraged by it. They’re disgusted by it.” (Mercury News)  (LATimes) (Sacbee

Newsom’s January budget plan included $1.75 billion toward increasing housing production. It includes: 

  • $500 million to remove barriers to building mixed-income housing. 
  • $650 million to help cities and counties provide emergency homelessness aid, rental assistance and permanent construction housing and more
  • $400 million to increase grants to families in the CalWORKs welfare program.
  • $20 million in legal assistance for eviction prevention.
  • $150 million in grants...would help the homeless through college programs, workforce grants and mental health resources