Every year, the number of people experiencing homelessness throughout the Los Angeles Continuum of Care is counted through the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count. Coordinated by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), the Count helps us better understand homelessness in our region and direct resources where they’re needed most.
In its 2020 Homeless Count, LAHSA reported that homelessness increased by 12.7% in Los Angeles County and by 14.2% in Los Angeles City from 2019. On any given night, 66,433 individuals and families are experiencing homelessness.
- There are currently 20,671 women experiencing homelessness, a 16% increase over the past year.
- Black and African-American individuals accounted for a disproportionate 33.7% of the homeless population, compared to their 7.9% share of the County’s general population.
- Two-thirds of unsheltered adults are experiencing homelessness for the first time. 59% of these individuals cite “economic hardship” as the main reason.
- 8% of people experiencing homelessness became homeless as a result of violence, while 49% of unsheltered adult women and 60% of unsheltered transgender individuals reported having a liftetime history of domestic, intimate partner, or other sexual violence.
- The number of seniors aged 62+ experiencing homelessness has increased by 20% from 2019.
- Seniors experiencing homelessness increased by 7%.
The report highlights the reality of systemic racism throughout Los Angeles, the latter of which is estimated to make Black and African-American Angelenos four times more likely to experience homelessness.
The year-over-year increase in homelessness documented through these Counts can also be attributed to a concurrent rise in income inequality and a lack of affordable housing across the region. 82,955 people entered homelessness in 2019, for a daily average of 227 -- even as 207 people exited homelessness every day, too. Factors like wage stagnation and rapidly rising rents in a county where more than half of all residents (54%) rent their homes have led to a “severely rent-burdened” economy, with almost one-third (29%) of all Los Angeles County households spending more than half of their total income on rent. The 2020 Homeless Count found that the County needs an additional 509,000 additional units of affordable housing to meet current demand, while regional renters would need to earn $41.96/hour on average -- almost three times the minimum wage -- to afford the median monthly rental of $2,182.
While these numbers paint a bleak picture, it is also important to note recent investments into proven, long-term solutions, too. Most notably, in 2019:
- 22,769 people experiencing homelessness were housed, a 5% increase over the previous year and more than double that of 2014.
- 6,310 people were provided assistance to prevent homelessness and 38,865 people were reached through outreach/engagement, more than triple the number before Measure H.
- 88% of individuals placed into housing in 2018 remained housed.
- The share of sheltered individuals experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County increased by 25%, due in large part to recent efforts to expand Bridge Housing programs.
- The Los Angeles City Council voted to spend $335.8 million of Prop HHH funds to develop nearly 3,000 affordable apartment units for people experiencing homelessness, with the City’s first Prop-HHH-funded permanent supportive housing project opening in January 2020, too.
- 732 units of permanent supportive housing were built, with another 2,694 planned for 2020 and 2021.
In a statement issued in response to the release of the 2020 Homeless Count results, DWC CEO Amy Turk noted, “No one person or organization can undo generations of systemic racism and inadequate housing supply. The Downtown Women’s Center is working tirelessly to end homelessness for women, with a gender and racial equity lens at the very center of our work.”
What DWC Is Doing
DWC has felt this increase across all our programs well before these numbers were released. To meet the needs of the growing number of women coming through our doors, we have expanded all our services, from serving more meals in our Day Center to increasing healthcare services for older women and expanding our Community Based Housing (CBH) Program in order to serve and house more women across the County.
DWC is moving upstream with a number of innovative, preventative programs, too. These include our Domestic Violence Rapid Re-Housing (DV RRH) Program, our Workforce Development (WfD) Program, our work on Project 100, our new Bridge Housing Program, and our work on LAHSA's Problem-Solving Initiative. In combination with our increasing advocacy efforts, each program works to prevent or rapidly resolve new instances of homelessness by providing immediate, trauma-informed services to women in vulnerable situations:
- Our DV RRH Program works to immediately house women fleeing abusive relationships or violence at home, before they become homeless.
- Our WfD Program is linking more women than ever to employers and employment training resources. We continue to hire women at our social enterprise, MADE by DWC, in order to break the cycle of unemployment.
- Project 100 is one of our newest programs, launched in coordination with the Los Angeles Office of the Mayor, LAHSA, Enterprise Community Partners, and other homeless service sector partners in October 2019. This innovative program aims to implement the recommendations of LAHSA’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness and the Ad Hoc Committee on Women Experiencing Homelessness, by providing culturally responsive services to 100 unhoused women living on Skid Row who have experienced long-term homelessness and have been historically underserved by traditional housing programs.
- Our Bridge Housing Program, launched in August 2019, provides critical overnight housing to 25 single, unaccompanied women who are in the process of securing permanent housing. Rather than just providing night-to-night shelter, the program works to quickly get women off the streets and keep them housed, in order to end homelessness for good.
- Our work under LAHSA’s new Problem-Solving Initiative uses creative problem-solving and a strengths-based approach to prevent new instances of homelessness by assisting housing insecure women with landlord mediation, budgeting, and family reunification.
Read the full report here.
Read our 2019 Los Angeles City Women's Needs Assessment here.
Lean more about progress made toward ending homelessness through investment in long-term resources like Measure H here.
Homelessness has increased across all parts of LA County, and affordable housing is critically needed in all neighborhoods, not just in Skid Row. Say Yes In My Backyard! Contact your City Councilmember and neighborhood representatives to advocate for more affordable housing and permanent supportive housing in your community, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same.
As we continue to grow to meet the needs of more women experiencing homelessness we need your support! None of the work we do is possible without your financial support. Set up a recurring donation or donate a one-time gift here.
Volunteers are at the heart of everything we do at DWC. Complete an application here to get involved with our community and supporting women on their path to personal stability.